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Sauces are an important addition to many dishes. Not only do they enhance and add flavour, but they also offer additional texture and mouthfeel. Adding a sauce can make a dish, taking it to another level - there's nothing quite like tucking into an eggs benedict or biting into a pizza with their freshly made respective sauces!
Before we dive further into what makes the five mother sauces and how to perfect them, we need to understand what a sauce is and how they are created. In its simplest form, a sauce is essentially a liquid that's combined with a thickening agent along with other ingredients and seasonings. Mother sauces can then be used to create 'small sauces' - a secondary sauce that's derived from the five basic sauces.
The term 'mother sauces' is common within the culinary arts, referring to the five basic sauces which can then be used to create secondary sauces, otherwise known as 'small sauces.' The term ???mother sauces??? is used because each one of the five sauces acts as the head of the sauce???s unique family.
The five French mother sauces are:
All other types of sauces are derived from one of these mother sauces.
TIP: Many sauces require finely diced vegetables. To improve your knife skills, read through our guide 'How to Become a Chef,' which is dedicated to helping aspiring chefs improve their kitchen skills as well as their knowledge of the culinary industry.
Bechamel sauce, also known as white sauce, is a universally well-loved sauce that's popular for pasta dishes like lasagne or macaroni cheese as well as fish pies. You can also use bechamel sauce as a base for cheesy sauces like the classic mornay sauce as well as other creamy sauces. Some small sauces that can be made from bechamel include:
Bechamel sauce is considered the easiest of mother sauces to make as it does not require you to make a stock. All you need to make bechamel sauce is milk, flour, butter and a white roux, which acts as the thickening agent. The bechamel sauce is then flavoured with onion, nutmeg and cloves and simmered until it reaches a velvety consistency.
Although similar to the basic tomato sauce commonly served with pasta or used on the base of a pizza, the classic tomato sauce is more complex and the starting point of many other traditional tomato sauces. The tomato sauce that's one of the five mother sauces may contain a roux to thicken the sauce, although this is not always necessary as the tomatoes themselves can be enough to thicken the sauce. Small sauces that can be made from the tomato sauce include:
TIP: Splattering can be common, so you may wish to place a splatter guard on top of the pan to reduce splattering and mess on your worktops.
The hollandaise sauce is popular for egg dishes like eggs benedict, eggs royale, and eggs Florentine. Those who enjoy lavish and flavourful breakfasts and brunches will recognise this rich, creamy and lemony sauce. However, achieving a perfect hollandaise sauce can be difficult and require skill, which is why we've created an easy hollandaise sauce recipe!
While hollandaise sauce can be served as it is, it can also be the foundation to various other sauces like:
TIP: Hollandaise sauce works perfectly with eggs, especially poached. However, if you need help with poaching your eggs, check out our egg rings, poachers and boilers, so you can achieve perfectly poached eggs each and every time!
Veloute sauce is another simple mother sauce, typically made by thickening white stock with a roux before simmering. There are a few variations, which is determined by the stock used when cooking. You can also make a vegetarian veloute sauce.
With so many variations, we've shared our recipe for a classic chicken veloute sauce that uses chicken stock.
The Espagnole sauce is much different to the other sauces, as it is made by thickening a brown stock with a roux (as opposed to the usual white stock). It is the combination of this brown stock, also known as mirepoix (a mixture of finely chopped carrots, onions and celery), and tomato puree that helps give Espagnole it's deep, brownish colour and rich flavour.
While uncommon to serve an Espagnole sauce on its own, it is the base of other sauces as well a used to make a demi-glace. Popular sauces typically made from an Espagnole sauce are:
It is always best to use sauces fresh, or to keep them warm until needed (if you are using soon after making them). Of course, if you wish to store your homemade sauces and use them the next day, store them in the fridge and use the microwave or stovetop to slowly heat up the sauces. By reheating the sauces slowly and gently, you avoid overcooking the sauce or causing it to separate.
Serving jugs are the best way to pour sauces on dishes. Not only do they help keep your sauces warm, but the handle and spout means you and your guests can distribute as much sauce as they wish!
The five mother sauces are the foundations of several small sauces. Learning how to make the mother sauces from scratch can help you cook delicious homecooked meals, while also helping those who are aspiring to being a full-time, professional chef.