Cooking can tend to be a complex art that requires so many recipes to remember, and a huge combination of ingredients and dishes. Master the basic French mother sauces and you’ll be on your way to cooking up professional-style meals at home. Here is a short list of sauces that are the building blocks applicable to almost all classic French cuisine, and almost all basic dishes.
A rich and creamy sauce that can be used in pasta sauces, gravy, or biscuit mixes. It’s made with a combination of roux (flour and butter) with milk or cream. It mixes easily and can be easily seasoned. Add this sauce the next time you cook lasagna or a chicken pot pie.
Although this mother sauce is a variation of Bechamel with added cheese, this base is more suited to cheesier dishes. Among dishes can include mac and cheese or nachos. With this sauce, instead of mixing it manually, for a smoother texture, this sauce can be placed in the blender.
A dairy-free sauce base is also a variation of Bechamel. This is not the most popular of sauces, and is hardly used as toppings, but it is mostly used for soups. This is made with a combination of roux and light stock as the base of the soup, made by simmering bones in water or wine from chicken, fish, or vegetables.
An indulgent gravy, known as a brown sauce. It is a good mother sauce for a number of meaty dishes, sauces, and soups. This is made with a dark roux (flour and fat cooked together), softened mirepoix vegetables (a combination of onions, celery, and bell peppers in the ratio of 2:1:1), tomato paste, and a dark stock, by grilling or frying the ingredients before boiling flavor out of bones of chicken, fish, or vegetables.
5. Demi Glace
A variation of the espagnole, only even more indulgent. This is the espagnole added with an equal part of veal stock (but a mixture reduced by half). It’s a sauce that can go with steak, added with a combination of mushrooms and red wine.
The mother sauce version of the modern-day tomato sauce starts with salt pork and roux simmered for hours. This creates a thick sauce that smothers pasta and breaded chicken. The roux is often optional for gluten-free diets, but roux acts as a thickener, and so the sauce must then be cooked longer.
Among the most intimidating sauces to make is the hollandaise. There is no roux involved in this sauce, but an emulsion of eggs and fat (similar to aioli sauces). The hollandaise is most popular on breakfast eggs benedict dishes, but also goes well with vegetables.