Julia Child once poignantly said, “Sauces are the glory and splendor of French cooking.” With our straightforward and simple How To videos of the five mother sauces of classical French cuisine, you’ll be able to experience the glory and splendor Child was referring to in no time.
Before we delve into the five mother sauces, a useful question to ask would be: what is a sauce? In essence, a sauce is a liquid that is thickened. There are a variety of ways in which this can be done, but with regards to the mother sauces, thickening is usually achieved with a roux, emulsion, or reduction.
A roux is a combination of equal parts fat and flour that is cooked together until the flour flavor has disappeared and the desired color is achieved. The fat used is generally butter, but other fats, such as lard or vegetable oil, can be substituted. Roux is a versatile thickening agent and used in three of the five mother sauces.
An emulsion is a mixture of two liquids that are usually unmixable, such as oil and vinegar.
A reduction is the process of thickening a sauce by simmering or boiling to remove moisture.
Now that we have a basic understanding of what defines a sauce and how it is thickened, let’s take a look at the five mother sauces.