Monday, April 4, 2011

Sauces 101

Its hard to go one week eating food without having at least one meal that has some sort of sauce on it. In the culinary world, sauces are divided into 2 categories: Mother or Leading, and Small or compound. Sauces are an amazing thing because there are five sauces that you use to make basically any other sauce. Those five sauces are: Bechamel, Veloute, Espagnole, Hollandaise, and Tomato.

Now, I'm not going to tell you about every single sauce, because thats just too much to read and type (a couple of my books have twenty page chapters devoted to sauces), so heres a brief about Bechamel!

I could tell you what to look for in a perfect bechamel, but you will know when its just right. No chunks, rich flavor, thats all you need. Heres a pretty basic recipe.

1 Onion Piquet(This is half an onion with a bay leaf pinned to it with a clove)
1/2 Gal Milk (I prefer whole, but its up to you, remember, the less fat in the milk, the harder it is to thicken)
4 Oz. Flour (not a good time to use whole wheat or anything fancy, just all purpose will do)
4 Oz. Clarified butter (Melt 4 ounces of butter, take the white stuff out, voila! clarified butter)
Salt, White Pepper, and Nutmeg to taste

So you have a saucepan with the milk, add the onion piquet to that and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes. I cant stress this enough, this isn't a set and forget type thing, set the heat really low or else you risk a massive boil over!

In a different pot, combine the butter and flour and on medium heat. This is where you create the thickener known as a Roux. You'll wanna stir constantly until its a little bubbly in appearance. USE YOUR SENSES! The smell should somewhat resemble a light smell of popcorn and a pale yellow color.

Now while whisking pretty heavily, add some of the milk to the roux pot, make sure there are no lumps and bring it to a boil. transfer the milk/roux back to the big batch and whisk some more. Let it simmer for about a half hour, strain, and boom! Bechamel sauce. for storage pour a little melted butter on the top to stop that nasty film from forming.

This single sauce can compound into a lot of different sauces like: Modern, Cream, Mornay, and Cheese.

Hope you learned something today!


  1. People don't realize just how easy a sauce is but it is essential to making the final touch for a meal come together

  2. What kind of food does this sauce go over?

  3. Never knew there was so much info/specialization on sauces. Guess it makes sense.. the sauce can make or break a dish :D

  4. Its like an accent to a meal. its great.

  5. I love sauce lol.
    Interesting article, following

  6. Do you dice the piquet or just toss it all in and hope for the best?

    ~H. Coct

  7. you literally pin the bay leaf to the whole (or half) onion like you put a poster up with a tack