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April 26, 2024

What are Mother Sauces?

Do you enjoy French cuisine? Have you ever wondered what they make those decadent sauces out of? This article will help you learn the ingredients of your favorite French sauces. So, what are mother sauces?

What are Mother Sauces?

Mother sauces are a building block of classic French cuisine. Five traditional “mother sauces” are the starting point for making various daughter, small, and secondary sauces. They are classified as mother sauces because they are the head of their own culinary sauce family. The sauce is liquid, plus a thickening agent and flavoring ingredients. Each of the five mother sauces are made with a different liquids and thickening agents.

Bechamel Mother Sauce

Bechamel is a mother sauce made of milk, flour, and butter. It can be thickened by adding a roux. Common ingredients that add flavor include onion, cloves, and nutmeg. Bechamel is used in pasta dishes like lasagna and casseroles. It can also be a base for a white, cream, or cheese-based sauce. Some bechamel secondary sauces include:

Mornay Sauce – a bechamel sauce enriched with Gruyere cheese.

Soubise Sauce – a classic cream sauce made with sautéing onions.

Nantua Sauce – a creamy seafood sauce.

Hollandaise Mother Sauce

Hollandaise is a tangy, buttery sauce that whisks clarified butter into warm egg yolks. It is famous for topping eggs benedict. Some of the hollandaise secondary sauces include:

Bearnaise Sauce – a rich, buttery, aromatic sauce that includes shallots, tarragon, and crushed black peppercorns.

Choron Sauce – adding tomato paste to a traditional bearnaise sauce.

Maltaise Sauce – made by adding the juice of blood oranges to a basic Hollandaise sauce.

Velouté Mother Sauce

Velouté is created by simmering white stock with a roux. It can be made with chicken, veal, or fish stock. Each protein stock creates a secondary mother sauce. Some secondary velouté sauces include:

Normandy Sauce – made for fish and seafood with mushrooms, egg yolks, and heavy cream.

Bercy Sauce – made for fish and seafood with a white wine reduction and chopped shallots mixed with the basic fish velouté.

Espagnole Mother Sauce

Espagnole, a brown sauce, is made by thickening brown stock with a roux. The espagnole adds to the velouté some tomato puree and mirepoix for a darker color. A famous type of espagnole is a red wine reduction sauce. Some espagnole secondary sauces include:

Marchand de Vin Sauce – a classic red wine reduction like A1 sauce.

Charcutiere Sauce – a finishing sauce made with onions, mustard, white wine, and chopped cornichons, simmered in a basic demi-glace.

Lyonnaise Sauce – made with onions and white wine vinegar simmered in a basic demi-glace.

Classic Tomato Sauce

The classic tomato mother sauce resembles a traditional Italian sauce but includes salt pork and sauté aromatic vegetables. Then tomatoes, stock, and a ham bone are added and brought to a simmer in the oven for a few hours. A few classic tomato secondary sauces include:

Spanish Sauce – a spicy tomato sauce made with sauteed onions, green peppers, mushrooms, garlic, and hot sauce.

Portuguese Sauce – hearty tomato sauce made with sauteed onions, garlic, tomato concasse, and parsley.

What is Roux?

Roux is a thickening agent used in mother sauces. It is created by adding equal parts fat and flour to a pan on medium to low heat. The chef stirs until the roux is a desired color and adds it to the mother sauce to thicken the liquid. When it comes to fat, you can use vegetable oil, canola oil, or unsalted butter.

Want to Learn More?

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Contact us now to learn more.

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