Top 5 Classic French Sauces Every Cook Should Know

PPhoebe September 11, 2023 10:47 AM

French cuisine is acclaimed worldwide for its culinary marvels, and an essential part of it are the classic French sauces. Whether you're an aspiring chef or a home cook, these five sauces are a cornerstone of French cooking and will elevate your dishes to new heights. Let's dive into the rich and luscious world of French sauces.

Béchamel Sauce

Also known as white sauce, béchamel forms the basis for many dishes in French cuisine. It's made from a white roux (butter and flour) and milk. A dash of nutmeg gives it a unique flavor.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • A pinch of nutmeg
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
  2. Stir in the flour to form a paste, cooking it for 2 minutes.
  3. Gradually whisk in the milk until smooth.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.
  5. Season with nutmeg, salt, and white pepper.

Hollandaise Sauce

Hollandaise sauce is a rich, lemony sauce made with butter, egg yolks, and lemon juice. It's often served with eggs benedict, vegetables, and fish.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and cayenne pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan.
  2. Whisk the egg yolks, lemon juice, and a tablespoon of water in another saucepan until frothy.
  3. Place this saucepan over low heat and keep whisking until the yolk mixture thickens.
  4. Start adding the melted butter slowly, whisking constantly.
  5. Once all the butter is incorporated, season with salt and cayenne pepper.

Espagnole Sauce

Espagnole sauce, also known as brown sauce, is a complex, flavorful base for many other sauces like the demi-glace. It's made from a brown roux, veal stock, and a mixture of vegetables and tomatoes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups veal stock or beef broth
  • 1/2 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan.
  2. Add the flour and cook until it turns brown.
  3. Stir in the vegetables and cook until they're softened.
  4. Add the tomato paste and cook for another minute.
  5. Gradually whisk in the veal stock until smooth.
  6. Let the sauce simmer for about 45 minutes, then strain it before use.

Velouté Sauce

Velouté sauce is a light, delicate sauce made from a white roux and clear stock (chicken, fish, or veal). It's often used as a base for other sauces.

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups clear stock
  • Salt and white pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Melt the butter in a saucepan.
  2. Stir in the flour to form a paste and cook it for a few minutes.
  3. Gradually whisk in the stock until smooth.
  4. Cook, stirring constantly, until sauce thickens.
  5. Season with salt and white pepper.

Tomato Sauce

French tomato sauce is a flavorful sauce made from tomatoes, vegetables, and a bit of pork. Despite its simplicity, it's incredibly versatile and used in many dishes.

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup diced salt pork
  • 1/2 cup chopped onions
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups crushed tomatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and black pepper to taste

Instructions:

  1. Cook the salt pork in a large saucepan until it renders its fat.
  2. Add the vegetables and garlic, cooking until soft.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaf, salt, and pepper.
  4. Let the sauce simmer for about 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

These classic French sauces will add a touch of elegance to any dish. Once you master these, you'll be able to create a myriad of other sauces and dishes.

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