Pro Series Class 7: The Mother Sauces

This post is part of a 9-part series related to my completion of the Pro Series 1 professional culinary arts course at The Culinary Center of Kansas City with Chef Richard McPeake. This course changed my cooking world! An introductory post can be found here.

I had been waiting for this class. Honestly, we all had since Chef uttered the words, “Nine. Cheese. Macaroni.” The Mother Sauces are the traditional French sauces from which all other sauces are born. These sauces are more time-consuming than a pan sauce (see Class 8 post), but mastering them will allow a home chef to make many, many different sauces. These sauces are:

Béchamel Sauce – white sauce made with milk and flavored with onions. The most famous variation is a Mornay Sauce (CHEESE!), but a béchamel is the basis for many cream sauces and fillings (such as in pot pies).

Espagnole (Spanish) Sauce – brown sauce made with brown stock, caramelized mirepoix, tomato paste, and seasoning. Some familiar variations include Madeira Sauce (with Madeira wine), Bordelaise Sauce (with red wine reduction), Poivrade Sauce (with peppercorn and butter), and Demi-Glace.

Velouté Sauce – a white stock sauce (slightly transparent, compared to a Béchamel). Familiar variations include Supreme Sauce (with cream) and Allemande Sauce (mushrooms and veal).

Hollandaise Sauce – an emulsion sauce made with a vinegar reduction, egg yolks, clarified butter, and lemon juice. Variations include a Béarnaise Sauce (tarragon, white wine, and peppercorns).

Tomato Sauce – just what it sounds like. The difference is this sauce is a much sweeter tomato sauce than an Italian-style sauce. It was spectacular.

We learned how to make white, blonde, and brown roux from flour and butter. A roux is equal parts flour and fat, cooked and used to thicken sauces. The difference is mere minutes of cooking time, and thus color. The longer you cook it (and the darker the roux), the less it will thicken your dish.

Between all four cooking teams, we made 1-2 batches of each sauce, and served them over various dishes. The Tomato Sauce flavored orzo (and was amazing). The Béchamel became Mornay sauce, and was the basis for our baked macaroni and cheese. The Velouté and Espagnole were served over roasted chicken. I made the Espagnole, and it was very good, but I loved the Velouté made by another team, which was flavored with mushrooms. I could not get enough of that one. The Hollandaise was served over asparagus. My Hollandaise didn’t emulsify very well, and so it wasn’t shiny and thick. But it tasted fine. I really don’t care for it anyhow, so the good news is I can leave this off of my list of things to master. This may have been one of the best food nights. I overate, to say the least. I was so busy eating, I didn’t take a single picture. Oops.