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Auguste Escoffier’s five mother sauces – hollandaise, béchamel, velouté, espagnole and tomato – are seen as the building blocks of French cuisine. Roux-based, the mother sauces recipes are actually pretty straightforward and with the addition of a few extra ingredients or further reduction you can create any number of daughter sauces, including béarnaise or demi-glace for example.
But you’ve got to know how to make these five mother sauces in the first place. Here then are five videos to show you how.
You might also be interested in these 12 basic sauces every cook should know.
First up, Heston Blumenthal whips up a classic hollandaise, in the context of preparing eggs benedict. Note a béarnaise sauce is essentially a hollandaise with tarragon and/or chervil.
Chef Russell Brown shows you how to make a simple béchamel, the classic white sauce – a basic skill every cook should possess.
A velouté simply substitutes the milk of a béchamel for stock. Notice how the roux is cooked for a limited time before the addition of the stock, so as to maintain the desired colour.
Don’t let this chef’s wooden delivery put you off: this is a classic recipe for a sauce espagnole, or ‘brown’ sauce, the base for demi-glace.
We probably associate tomato sauce most readily with Italian cuisine – check out Italian chef Davide Oldani's recipe – but Escoffier’s sauce tomate is more complex. Let this spoon-loving French chef show you how.