In the culinary arts, the term “mother sauce” refers to any one of five basic sauces, which are the starting points for making various secondary sauces or “small sauces.”
They’re called mother sauces because each one is like the head of its own unique family of sauces.
A sauce is essentially a liquid plus some sort of thickening agent along with other flavoring ingredients. Each of the five mother sauces is made with a different liquid, and a different thickening agent — although three of the mother sauces are thickened with roux, in each case the roux is cooked for a different amount of time to produce a lighter or darker color.
Béchamel sauce– made from milk and roux, is the base for a number of other classic sauces with additional ingredients added including:
Albert Sauce – Simmer 2 minced shallots, 2 T. grated horseradish, and 1/2 t. dry mustard in the butter, and continue with the basic recipe. Add 1 T. of sherry and 1 T. vinegar, and then finish with a chunk of unsalted butter. Serve with light roasted meats.
Champignon Sauce – Saute 1 c. small mushrooms in the butter, continue with basic recipe, stir in a blended mixture of 1/4 c. crème fraîche and 1 egg yolk.
Serve with eggs, fish and vegetables.
Duxelles Sauce – Sauté 2 minced onions in butter for 8 minutes, add 1 c. minced mushrooms and sauté another 5 minutes. Continue with basic recipe, stir in a blended mixture of 1/4 c. crème fraîche and 1 egg yolk, and serve with poultry, eggs and vegetables.
Moutarde Sauce – Sauté 1 T. dry mustard in the butter and continue with the basic recipe. To finish, add 3 T. whipping cream. Serve with eggs, poultry and vegetables.
Soubise Sauce – Simmer over low heat, 2 c. minced onions in the butter for 5 – 10 minutes until soft, then add 1 t. confectioners sugar and continue with the basic recipe. Mash through a fine sieve and finish with a chunk of unsalted butter and 2 T. crème fraîche. Use for roasted white meats.
Béchamel Sauce Variations – Family II Offspring’s
All Béchamel family II sauces use the finished parent Béchamel Sauce recipe, then specific ingredients are added to complete the offspring sauces.
Aurore Sauce – Stir in 1/2 c. tomato purée and 2 T. sherry to parent recipe. Serve with eggs and vegetables.
Chantilly Sauce – Fold in 1 t. fresh lemon zest and 4 T. whipped cream into warm Béchamel sauce. Serve with eggs or vegetables.
Mornay Sauce – combine 2 egg yolks, 4 T. whipping cream, 4 T. grated parmesan cheese to the finished parent sauce. Heat sauce just enough to melt the cheese [do not boil], and serve with eggs or vegetables.
Quenelle Sauce – Stir in 1/4 c. crème fraîche and 1 egg yolk blended mixture, 2 T. whipping cream, a chunk of unsalted butter, and finish the sauce with 2 T. sherry and 2 drops red food coloring. Add the cooked Quenelles, seafood or vegetables to the sauce and heat gently and serve.
The basic method of making espagnole is to prepare a very dark brown roux, to which veal stock or water is added, along with browned bones, pieces of beef, vegetables, and various seasonings. This blend is allowed to slowly reduce while being frequently skimmed. The classical recipe calls for additional veal stock to be added as the liquid gradually reduces but today water is generally used instead. Tomato paste or pureed tomatoes are added towards the end of the process, and the sauce is further reduced.
Velouté sauce is a light stock (one in which the bones used have not been previously roasted), such as chicken, veal or fish stock, that is thickened with a blond roux. Thus the ingredients of a velouté are equal parts by mass butter and flour to form the roux, a light chicken, veal, or fish stock, and salt and pepper for seasoning. Commonly the sauce produced will be referred to by the type of stock used e.g. chicken velouté. Sauce velouté is often served on poultry or seafood dishes.
Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of butter and lemon juice or vinegar using egg yolks as the emulsifying agent (to bind the sauce), usually seasoned with salt and a little black pepper or cayenne pepper. Hollandaise sauce is well known as a key ingredient in Eggs Benedict. A normal ratio of ingredients is 1 egg yolk:1 teaspoon lemon juice:4-6 Tbs. butter. A common derivative of Hollandaise Sauce is Sauce Béarnaise which is produced by replacing the lemon reduction in hollandaise with a strained reduction of vinegar, shallots, fresh chervil, fresh tarragon and crushed peppercorns.
Tomato sauce is any of a very large number of sauces made primarily out of tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish (rather than as a condiment) Tomatoes have a rich flavor, low liquid content, very soft flesh which breaks down easily, and the right composition to thicken up into a sauce when they are cooked (without the need of thickeners like roux). All of these qualities make them ideal for simple and appealing sauces. Marinara Sauce is an American-Italian term for a simple tomato sauce with herbs—mostly parsley and basil—but, contrary to its name (which is Italian for coastal, seafaring) without anchovies, fish or seafood. In other countries marinara refers to a seafood and tomato sauce.