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Jun 20, 2011 11:24 AM

Mother sauces!

I'm giving myself a challenge: cook each of the mother sauces for a week, once a day. I'm skipping espagnol because veal, otherwise it's bechamel, then hollandaise, tomato and veloute. Tomato is easy, but for the others, to my knowledge I've never eaten food that uses them.

So I need suggestions for simple dishes I can make with each sauce. This will be a lunchtime project, since one shouldn't spoil dinner with a failed experiment, so I'm looking for as light as possible. A friend suggested croque monsieur and mac and cheese for the bechamel, and those fit fine.

The idea behind this is that cooks learn through repetition, but it's hard at home to cook the same thing day after day (if you expect anyone to keep eating). I'm trying to devise a way to combine repetition with variety.

And if anyone else wants to play along, I'd be glad of company. Bechamel starts Sunday!

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    1. Bechamel- cream chipped beef. Of course add cheese and it'll be a Mornay sauce and you can make mac n cheese.
      Hollandaise- filet mignon, vegetables, eggs.
      Veloute-make a soup, such as asparagus.

      1. Your remark about the espagnole sauce is a bit cryptic, but I am assuming you do not want to encourage the raising of veal by using veal bones for the stock, due to the much-publicized cruelty involved. Just use or make regular beef stock and proceed with the espagnole sauce in the usual fashion. It will come out fine.

        2 Replies
        1. re: gfr1111

          No one in my family grew up eating veal, so we just don't. If I did cook it no one would eat it. And the ugly way it's produced has given me even more reason not to explore. But if a beef espagnole is acceptable I might give it a week as well.

          1. re: ennuisans

            free-range veal exists.

            hollandaise is the sauce for eggs benedict, or any version thereof, like florentine, or poached eggs and smoked salmon.

            what goes under the velouté will depend upon your base. i like a shellfish base over shrimp. (it's really not much different than a bechamel, so once you get that, you'll have little trouble with the other.)

        2. any gravy is basically a bechamel...with meat drippings or meat added...
          biscuits and gravy.....wet fries...turkey gravy...meatloaf with gravy....
          add cheese u get mac and cheese...or any cheese for cheese sauce...on pasta...
          yorkshire pudding (or popovers here in the USA) with gravy...

          i do hollandaise when i do aspargus wrapped with prosciutto...
          or eggs benedict ....

          those are just off the top of my head....

          11 Replies
          1. re: srsone

            I'm not sure that is actually true. The mother sauces in true french cooking are very specific.

            While almost any gravy may use a roux, they are definitely not béchamel (which is milk/cream thickened with a roux - period). There are any number of gravies that don't require any dairy.

            You could easily just thicken a stock with a roux (say chicken stock) add some herbs and pour that over a piece of chicken (though that would be a veloute I think).

            I love this idea though - I'll have to think about that.

            1. re: thimes

              srone is wrong about the bechamel, which is milk and roux. With meat drippings or stock, it's a veloiute.

              1. re: monavano

                Seems like if you consider a roux to be only made of butter and flour then gravy would not count. But if you broaden it to fat + flour, then milk gravy made from meat fat isn't far off the bechamel mark. Then again when I make milk gravy I don't scald the milk first, so they're more like kissing cousins.

                1. re: ennuisans

                  Right! It is fat and flour, which would make your sauce kind of a cross between a veloute, but more of a bechamel.

                  1. re: ennuisans

                    Agreed that a gravy made from roux (using animal fat + flour) and milk is very close to a bechamel.

                    I guess I was just making that point that the statement "any gravy is basically a bechamel" is not really accurate since many things that people consider "gravy" (I guess this may be a geographic thing too) do not require the milk - in which case they aren't anything like bechamel. If I took the juice that came out of a roasted bird, added roux to thicken, and poured that over the bird - I would call that gravy but it doesn't have any dairy.

                    Now that I am typing that - a new thread that could get people all worked up (similar to the "fried chicken - pan or deep fried" thread that I read . . . . Does gravy have to have dairy in it to be considered gravy. Maybe without dairy it is just sauce . . . . not to me but I'm only one person . . .

                    1. re: thimes

                      I never thought of gravy having to contain milk. You've got chicken gravy which I make with a roux or beurre manie.
                      And, you have your Italian "gravy" ;-)

                      1. re: thimes

                        Well there's brown gravy, which I don't think has dairy. Just flour and beef drippings as far as I know. And I consider some sauces at Chinese restaurants to be gravy even though many use corn starch as a thickener rather than flour. But I suppose, since I'm from the Ozarks, when someone says gravy I immediately think milk unless there's a qualifier to it. (And even here it's not always milk, but maybe leftover potato water. Poor but resourceful, that's us.)

                        1. re: thimes

                          Italian Americans commonly call their tomato sauce gravy.

                          1. re: paulj

                            yes...i have the sopranos recipe for "sunday gravy"

                            1. re: paulj

                              sicilian-americans call it that.

                              i am italian-american and it was always sauce for us.

                      2. re: thimes

                        yea i know....i was typing in a hurry before i left work......and edit expired
                        i meant to say any gravy is a roux add milk to get a i was close....

                        does just roux count as sauce???

                        and i was thinking how could you never not have eaten anything that has one of those basics ever...

                        i was all homer on the way home....DOHHHHHHHH!!

                    2. Veloute is the base for these
                      * Sauce Vin Blanc: By adding white wine and heavy cream to fish velouté.
                      * Albufera Sauce: Addition of meat glaze glace de viande.
                      * Allemande sauce By adding a few drops of lemon juice, egg yolks, and cream
                      * Bercy: Shallots, white wine, lemon juice and parsley added to a fish velouté
                      * Poulette: Mushrooms finished with chopped parsley and lemon juice
                      * Aurora: Tomato purée
                      * Hungarian: Onion, paprika, white wine
                      * Sauce ravigote: the addition of a little lemon or white wine vinegar creates a lightly acidic velouté that is traditionally flavored with onions and shallots, and more recently with mustard.
                      * Normandy: Mushroom cooking liquid and oyster liquid or fish fumet added to fish velouté, finished with a liaison of egg yolks and cream
                      * Suprême sauce By adding a reduction of mushroom liquor (produced in cooking) and cream to a chicken velouté
                      * Venetian sauce: Tarragon, shallots, chervil