In the art of cooking and preparing food, they always say that the sauce either makes or breaks a dish, and the way a chef or cook plates the sauce is his/her signature. What makes the sauce a very important component of a dish is that it adds flavor, and sometimes, it can compensate for a protein’s lack of seasoning. Yes, it may act as a cover up if you forgot to season your meat with salt and pepper, but remember that having a great tasting sauce is no excuse to an unseasoned meat.
In gastronomy, there are the five basic mother sauces. They are considered to be the base sauces of all the sauces we have now. They are the Brown Sauce, Bechamel, Veloute, Hollandaise and Tomato. Brown Sauce is made from brown stock, which is basically roasted beef/veal/chicken bones. Bechamel is made from milk thickened with roux, which is a mixture of butter and flour. Veloute is basically any stock (beef, fish, chicken, veal, vegetable) thickened with roux. Hollandaise is a butter-base sauce made with a white wine and white wine vinegar reduction and clarified butter. This requires constant stirring over a hot water bath. Tomato sauce is made from fresh tomatoes.
These mother sauces are already part of culinary history. They’re classic. It’s up to us how we upgrade them and make other sauces out of them. For example, by adding brandy and porcini mushrooms to your Brown Sauce can result to a Brandy Porcini Sauce, which you can serve with your steak. Add some tarragon leaves and substitute tarragon vinegar for white wine vinegar, and your Hollandaise can result to Sauce Bearnaise. You can serve it with fish and other seafood. You can make your very own derivation of a sauce from these mother sauces just by adding or substituting ingredients.
These five base sauces are very versatile, but I think the most flexible of them all is the Bechamel. Add parmesan cheese to it and you can have Sauce Mornay. If you add mushrooms to it, you can have mushroom sauce. Bechamel and its derivations can be served with meat, poultry, croquettes and pasta dishes. Here at Josiah’s, we add pesto to Bechamel, and voila! We have a pasta sauce. How about you trying to make a Mornay Sauce and top it over poach eggs. How does that sound? Sounds yummy, right?
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