Sauces in French cuisine date back to the middle ages.
"There were hundreds of sauces in the culinary repertoire. In 'classical' French cooking (19th and 20th century until nouvelle cuisine), sauces were a major defining characteristic of French cuisine."
"In the 19th century, the chef Antonin Carême classified sauces into four families, each of which was based on a mother sauce (Also called grandes sauces). Carême's four mother sauces were:
1) Béchamel: based on milk, thickened with a white roux.
- Béchamel sauce (pronounced /bɛʃəˈmɛl/ in English, IPA: [beʃaˈmɛl] in French, IPA: [beʃaˈmɛlla] in Italian), also known as white sauce, is a basic sauce that is used as the base for other sauces, such as Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel and cheese.
2) Espagnole: based on brown stock (usually veal), thickened with a brown roux.
- The basic method of making espagnole is to prepare a very dark brown roux, to which are added several litres of veal stock or water, along with 10–15 kg of browned bones, pieces of beef, many kilograms of vegetables, and various seasonings.
3) Velouté: based on a white stock, thickened with a blonde roux.
- The term velouté is from the French adjectival form of velour, meaning velvety. In preparing a velouté sauce, a light stock (one in which the bones used have not been previously roasted), such as chicken, veal or fish stock, is thickened with a blond roux.
4) Allemande: based on velouté sauce, is thickened with egg yolks & heavy cream.
- Allemande sauce is a sauce in French cuisine that is based on velouté sauce, but thickened with egg yolks, heavy cream, and seasoned with lemon juice.
"In the early 20th century, the chef Auguste Escoffier updated the classification, adding sauces such as:
- Tomato sauce: "A tomato sauce is any of a very large number of sauces made primarily out of tomatoes, usually to be served as part of a dish (rather than as a condiment). Tomato sauces are common for meat and vegetables, but they are perhaps best known as sauces for pasta dishes."
Emulsified sauces such as:
- Mayonnaise: Mayonnaise (sometimes abbreviated to mayo in English and other languages) is a thick condiment made primarily from vegetable oil and egg yolks.[
- Hollandaise: "Hollandaise sauce is an emulsion of butter and lemon juice using egg yolks as the emulsifying agent, usually seasoned with salt and a little black pepper or cayenne pepper. It is a French sauce, so named because it was believed to have mimicked a Dutch sauce. Hollandaise sauce is well known as a key ingredient in Eggs Benedict. " (see example recipe)
"Most sauces commonly used in classical cuisine are derivatives of one of the above mentioned mother sauces. Mother sauces are not commonly served as they are; instead they are augmented with additional ingredients to make derivative sauces. For example, Bechamel can be made into Mornay by the addition of Gruyère, and Espagnole becomes Bordelaise with the addition of reduced red wine and poached beef marrow."
You may also be interested in: