a food lover’s chronicle of all things culinary

The Five Mother Sauces (Part 1 of 6)

June 16th, 2006

We see so many sauces with dishes served today — tomato sauce, mushroom sauce, Béarnaise sauce, marsala sauce, and vin blanc sauce to name just a few. Some may even seem quite similar to one another. For example, both Alfredo sauce and Mornay sauce are made by mixing a roux with warm cream or milk. Do these sauces all link up somewhere along the line? Of course they do, and we call them the Mother Sauces.

Marie-Antoine Caréme, a chef and author in the 19th century, was the first to classify sauces. He once worked for a French diplomat who encouraged him to use simplified sauces with fewer ingredients. After the fall of Napoléon and the dispersion of the Congress of Vienna, Caréme published his classification of the four mother sauces: Allemande — stock with egg yolk & lemon juice; Béchamel — flour and milk; Espagnole — brown stock; and Velouté — white stock.

In the early 19th century, the “Emperor of Chefs”, Georges Auguste Escoffier, updated the list of mother sauces. Escoffier took a great deal from Caréme, however, made effort to simplify Caréme’s sauce classification even further. He replaced the Allemande with Hollandaise & Mayonnaise — today’s emulsion sauces. He also added Tomate to encompass tomato based sauces.

Escoffier’s classification of the Five Mother Sauces is still taught to chef’s today. Most sauces are based on one of these five sauces. You start with a mother sauce and incorporate other ingredients to create a more complex sauce.

Over the next week or two, I will be highlighting one mother sauce per posting. With each article, there will be a bit of history, some background information, variations of the featured mother sauce, and some recipes. Stay tuned. Next up: Hollandaise.

Entry Filed under: History,Sauce

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. catherine phipps  |  August 23rd, 2006 at 6:13 pm

    I have been trying to find out what is considered Classic or Classical Cuisine and what is continental cuisine. Can you help me.

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