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La Belle Cuisine - Basic Brown Sauce Recipes

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"Sauce, n. The one infallible sign of civilization and enlightenment.
A people with no sauces has one thousand vices; a people with one
sauce has only nine hundred ninety-nine. For every sauce invented
and accepted, a vice is renounced and forgiven."

~ Ambrose Bierce

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La Belle Cuisine



“The French are credited with refining the sophisticated art of sauce-making.
It was the 19th-century French chef Antonin Carême who evolved an intricate methodology by which hundreds of sauces were classified under one of five
"mother sauces."
  Those are:

 Espagnole (brown stock-based) 

Velouté (light stock-based)

Béchamel (basic white sauce)

Hollandaise and Mayonnaise (emulsified sauces)

Vinaigrette (oil-and-vinegar combinations)”
(from The New Food Lover's Companion
by Sharon Tyler Herbst)


Classic Brown Sauce
by Jan Weimer
Bon Appetit November 1980

Bon Appetit - One Year Subscription

“The classic brown sauce is one of the sauces mères (mother sauces) of French cuisine, so called because many other important sauces are derived from it.
Like the white sauces, béchamel and velouté, brown sauce consists of a liquid
thickened with a cooked mixture of butter and flour called a roux. The dif-
ference is that for a brown sauce the roux is cooked much longer; it must be
stirred over low heat until it acquires a nut-brown cast that intensifies the
color and flavor  of the sauce. This lengthier cooking diminishes the thick-
ening power of the starch, a factor that should be taken into consideration
before you start cooking. To make a brown sauce of medium thickness,
allow two tablespoons of both butter and flour for each cup of liquid.

Another major difference between the white and brown
sauce families is the
liquid on which they are based. Instead of milk, chicken, veal or fish stock,
brown sauce takes much of its flavor and character from a substantial beef
stock that has been flavored with browned beef bones or veal bones.
Some of the most important sauces in French cuisine - Madère, Bordelaise,
- are among the spin-offs of the Classic Brown Sauce. And, as the
recipes for these and other variations indicate, the basic structure of these
sauces is identical to that of the mother sauce; only the flavorings change.
A rich-tasting brown sauce is a perfect match for aged beef, and its variations
include ideal partners for veal, lamb, pork and chicken.
A brown sauce that is the color of mahogany, with rich, concentrated flavor
and a silken sheen, is not difficult to make, but it does take time. The sauce
must simmer for three to four hours in order to attain the desired consistency
and intensity of flavor. One taste of a carefully simmered and perfectly sea-
soned brown sauce and you will understand when many chefs consider a
Sauce Madère or a Sauce Bordelaise, or any of their cousins, among the
triumphs of the good cook's repertoire.”


Classic Brown Sauce

 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 celery stalk (including leaves) thinly sliced
1 ounce Prosciutto or other ham, diced
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
2 quarts degreased rich unsalted beef stock,
heated to boiling
10 parsley sprigs (with stems)
6 thyme sprigs or 2 teaspoons dried, crumbled
2 bay leaves
1 tablespoon tomato paste or
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 large shallot, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
Mushroom trimmings (optional)
Chicken beef, veal or ham trimmings and
bones (optional)
2 tablespoons Cognac
Salt and fresh ground pepper

 Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy 4-quart saucepan over low heat. Add onion, carrot, celery and Prosciutto. Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Transfer to bowl. Melt 1/2 cup butter in same saucepan over
low heat. Add flour and stir until roux is the color of coffee with cream,
about 10 minutes. Whisk in boiling stock. Increase heat and stir until sauce returns to boil. Add reserved onion mixture to saucepan with the parsley, thyme, bay leaves, tomato paste, shallot, garlic and trimmings and bones.
Reduce heat and simmer, skimming off foam that rises to surface, until
the sauce has thickened and is reduced to 1 quart, about 3 hours, stirring
occasionally toward end of cooking time to prevent sticking. Strain sauce through chinois or sieve lined with 3 layers of dampened cheesecloth, but
do not press down on ingredients or sauce will be cloudy.
Remove any
fat from surface of sauce by blotting with strips of paper towel. Just before serving, stir in Cognac and season to taste with salt and pepper.

 Enhance the Classic Brown Sauce with any or all of the following enrichments:

 Butter:  For a shiny gloss, whisk 2 tablespoons well-chilled butter into
sauce just before serving.  Do not reheat or sauce will separate.

Caramel: Caramel naturally deepens the color of a sauce without notice-
ably affecting its flavor. To prepare caramel, place 2 teaspoons sugar in
heavy small saucepan (do not use tin-lined copper) and melt over low
heat. Let cook until lightly golden in color. Turn off heat, stand away
from pan and pour in ladleful of sauce. Stir over low heat until well
blended. Strain into remaining sauce and mix thoroughly.

Glace de Viande:  To heighten flavor, stir in a tablespoon of glace de
(meat glaze) when reheating sauce.


 Sauce Madère:  Combine 1/3 cup Madeira, Sherry or Port with 1 cup
brown sauce in heavy saucepan and simmer 20 minutes, stirring
occasionally. Serve with beef or chicken.

Sauce Périgueux:  With truffles, a Sauce Madère becomes the exquisite
Sauce Périgueux. Splendid with beef, it is generally reserved for special
occasions. Slice one fresh or canned truffle and marinate in 1/2 cup
Madeira for at least 24 hours. Melt 2 tablespoons butter in small sauce-
pan over medium heat. Add 1 minced small shallot and stir until trans-
lucent. Add truffle and marinade. Simmer gently 10 minutes. Remove
truffle using slotted spoon. Set aside. Boil marinade until reduced to
1/4 cup. Add the truffle and 1 cup brown sauce and simmer 5 minutes.

Sauce Bordelaise:  Soak 4 inches beef marrow in ice water overnight.  Combine 3/4 cup dry red wine, 1 minced medium shallot and 1 thyme
sprig (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme) in small saucepan and boil until reduced
to 2 tablespoons. Strain into another saucepan. Add 1 cup brown sauce
and simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain marrow and slice into
pieces 1/4 inch thick. Transfer to small saucepan. Cover with cold salted
water and heat just until water simmers. Drain again. Reserve a slice to
garnish each serving; stir remainder into sauce. A traditional accompani-
ment for beef.

Sauce Lyonnaise:  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy small saucepan over
low heat. Add 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion. Cover and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup dry white wine and 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar. Increase heat and boil until the mixture is
reduced to 1/4 cup. Blend in 1 cup brown sauce and simmer 5 minutes,
stirring occasionally. Garnish with 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley.

Sauce Marchand de Vin:  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy small sauce-
pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 minced large shallot and 1 1/2 cups
sliced mushrooms and sauté until mushroom juices have evaporated, about
5 minutes. Stir in 3/4 cup dry red wine. Increase heat and boil until mixture
is reduced to 1/4 cup. Stir in 1 cup brown sauce and 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. The only brown sauce varia-
tion to be created in America, this is usually spooned over beef.

Sauce Chasseur (Hunter):  Melt 2 tablespoons butter in heavy small sauce-
pan over medium-high heat. Add 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion and 1 1/2 cups
thinly sliced mushrooms and sauté until mushroom juices have evaporated, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1/2 cup dry white wine and 1/2 cup tomato sauce. 
Increase heat and boil until mixture is reduced to 1/4 cup. Blend in 1 cup brown sauce. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Garnish with 1 1/2
teaspoons each minced fresh parsley, chervil and tarragon. Spoon over
sautéed chicken. [Also delicious with pork and veal.]

Sauce Poivrade:  Melt 1 tablespoon butter in heavy small saucepan over
low heat. Add 1/4 cup thinly sliced onion and 1/4 cup thinly sliced carrot.
Cover and cook until translucent, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes.
Stir in 1 bay leaf, 1 thyme sprig (or 1 teaspoon dried thyme), 3/4 cup dry
red wine and 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar. Increase heat and boil until reduced to 1/4 cup. Strain into another saucepan. Add 1 cup brown sauce.
Stir in 1/2 teaspoon coarsely crushed black peppercorns. Simmer 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. A traditional sauce for game or lamb. By adding 1 tablespoon currant jelly and 2 tablespoons whipping cream this variation
becomes a Grand Veneur.

Great Hints

 •  Rendered beef, veal or pork fat can be substituted for butter in
recipe for Classic Brown Sauce.

  To hasten browning of roux, precook flour in a 350-degree F. oven
for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  For a fat-free brown sauce, place 1/2 cup oven-browned flour in a
saucepan and whisk in enough brown stock to make a paste. Gradu-
ally whisk in remaining stock (there should be a total of 2 cups stock)
and bring to a boil. Sieve, if necessary. Add raw onion, carrot, celery,
shallot, garlic and other seasonings and proceed as for Classic
Brown Sauce.

  A brown sauce should be thick enough to cling to food without overwhelming it. If it is too thick, thin with cream or stock. If it is
too thin, reduce over high heat or thicken with a beurre manié.

  Add acidic ingredients such as vinegar, lemon or lime juice after
the sauce has reduced.  If added earlier, sauce won't thicken.

  To keep sauce warm, place in a bain-marie.  Do not cover or
steam will thin sauce too much.


Brown Sauce [quick]
Gourmet January 1987

1/2 cup beef, veal, or pork drippings or
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter
2 onions, quartered
1 small carrot, quartered
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups chicken or beef broth
3 parsley sprigs
1 rib of celery
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 bay leaf
A pinch of dried thyme
1/4 cup canned tomato purée

In a stainless steel or enameled kettle melt the drippings, add the onions
and carrot, and sauté them over moderately high heat, stirring, until the
onions begin to turn golden. Add the flour and cook the mixture over low
heat, stirring, until the flour and the vegetables are a rich brown. Remove
the kettle from the heat, add 3 cups of the broth, heated, in a stream, stir-
ring, and stir the mixture until it is combined well. Add the parsley, celery,
garlic, bay leaf, and thyme, and cook the mixture over low heat, stirring,
until it thickens. Add 3 more cups of the broth and simmer the mixture,
stirring occasionally and skimming any froth as it rises to the surface, for
1 hour and 30 minutes, or until the liquid is reduced to about 3 cups. Add
the tomato purée, simmer the sauce for 5 minutes, and strain it through a
fine sieve into a bowl. Return the sauce to the kettle, add the remaining 2
cups broth, and simmer the sauce, skimming any froth, until it is reduced
to about 4 cups.

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