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Edward Bottone: Classic French SaucesEdward Bottone
A Cook’s Book Shelf
Classic French Sauces


Classic French Sauces

Allemande (one of the “Mother” Sauces):
velouté cooked with additional stock, mushroom liquid, egg yolks; nutmeg, lemon juice, and pepper; finished with butter

Intense egg – olive oil mayonnaise used as a sauce, often for seafood and shellfish.

sauce béchamel cooked with a bouquet garni; seasoned with salt; flavored with pepper and nutmeg; finished with tomato paste

A relative of hollandaise, béarnaise is a reduction of vinegar, tarragon and shallots that is finished with egg yolks and butter.

Béchamel (one of the “Mother” Sauces):
Add milk or cream to a white roux it becomes a béchamel.

Beurre Blanc:
Literally, “white butter” — a hot butter sauce made with a reduction of vinegar (or lemon juice), white wine and shallots into which cold, knobs of butter are carefully blended over moderate heat.

velouté de poisson flavored with a reduction of shallots, fish stock, wine; finished with butter and parsley

Sauce béchamel finished with truffle essence, lobster butter, and cayenne pepper

Espagnole (one of the “Mother” Sauces):
Long cooked, fortified veal stock, a step away from Demi Glace de viand. The basis for many brown sauces.

Hollandaise (one of the “Mother” Sauces):
Hot egg-yolk butter lemon juice emulsion (don’t forget the salt).

Hongroise: velouté de volaille flavored with a reduction of onions and vinegar; flavored with paprika.

Indienne au kari: velouté de volaille flavored with curry powder and nutmeg; finished with butter

Suprême: velouté de volaille finished with egg yolk and cream.

A liaison, or binding agent, is the base of any French sauce. Egg yolks, butter, flour, and puréed vegetables are all liaisons.

Sauce béchamel finished with cheese: a combination of Gruyere and Parmesan.

Velouté flavored with a reduction of shallots, sugar, and vinegar; seasoned with salt; garnished with sliced gherkins.

Velouté de volaille flavored with a reduction of white wine and vinegar; finished with shallot butter; garnished with chervil, chives, and tarragon

Mayonnaise, mustard, capers, chopped gherkins, herbs, and anchovies.

French — literally “rust.” Chiles, garlic, bread crumbs and olive oil pounded into a spicy, paste. Garnishes bouillabaisse.

Sauce béchamel combined with cooked, pureed onions; finished with butter.

Velouté (one of the “Mother” Sauces):
Mix a white roux with white stock — light chicken (volaille), fish (poisson) or veal stock and it becomes a velouté.


The French, thickened sauces with butter, flour, egg yolks, and cream. Prior to the 16th century, coarse bread and ground almonds were the thickeners of choice. Other thickeners include blood, foie gras, yogurt, fresh cheese, and bread.

A roux made from cooked butter and flour; beurre manié from equal parts of flour and butter rubbed together into a paste then added to sauces or stews near the end of cooking. Tempered egg yolks can be whisked into a sauce, and reduced cream can be used as well.

Butter alone can also be used as a thickener. When it is whisked into a hot liquid, the milk solids and proteins in butter form an emulsion that suspends the particles of fat in the liquid, creating a thicker, shinier sauce. A half cup of butter is needed per 1 cup of liquid.

The quickest and easiest thickener cornstarch. Whisk it with equal parts of water (or wine or port or whatever compliments the end result) and then add it to a boiling stock and you have an instant sauce. Arrowroot even better same method and gives a cleared result (especially with fruit sauces).

Potatoes are well suited to thicken certain soups and stews (as is rice where appropriate.)

Puréed vegetables are ideal if you are emulating the tenets of Nouvelle Cuisine.