Sauce, as we call it in English, comes from the Latin word salsa, which actually means salted, though today, we think of salsa in a different way. Sauces have been used on foods since the 3rd century B.C. Sauces are rarely eaten by themselves but are served either on top of or on the side of meats, fish and vegetables. Sauces can be creamy, liquidy or semi-solid and basically can be made with and from just about anything. They can be used for both sweet and savory foods and they can be either hot or cold. Contrary to present day preference, the main reason for using a sauce seemed to be to disguise the natural taste of food – possibly to conceal doubtful freshness, possibly to demonstrate the variety of costly spices available to the host.
There are five major savory sauces and everything else derives from them. These five sauces are bechemal, veloute, espagnole, hollandaise and tomato and are known as the “Moher Sauces”. We add sauces to foods because they add flavor, moisture, eye appeal and improve the texture of the foods we serve them with. 1) A bechamel sauce is a white sauce made from a roux made with flour, boiled milk, and butter. It is usually served with white meats, eggs, and vegetables. When it was first created, it was considered a luxury sauce, because most people did not have a way to keep their milk fresh. 2) A veloute sauce is is a stock-based white sauce that can be made from chicken, veal, or fish stock thickened with a white roux. 3) Espagnole or Borderlaise sauce is a brown sauce, made from a brown roux, to which veal stock and tomatoes are added and simmered until reduced. 4) A Hollandaise (or Holland style) sauce is a sauce made with butter and egg yolks. It is served hot with vegetables, fish, and eggs (like egg benedict). 5) And a tomato sauce, is pretty obvious it is made from tomatoes, and goes with everything.
I am always using some kind of a sauce, and I use sauces on most things I cook. I love all kinds of sauces and use them all the time. But then, you already knew I was a saucy kind of girl. 🙂 Very rarely do I stick with the basic “mother sauce recipes” though. I start with them as a base and then go from there. As always, I make things in my own unique way. I remember when I was in culinary school, I was always getting reprimanded for doing things my own way too. Sometimes I would get in trouble and would be punished, and other times I was praised. It all depended on what chef I was working with at the time. Chef Averseng actually like the way I did things and would frequently comment, “Oh Jeanne (pronounced She-ne), dis is good”, in his very French way of saying things. Chef Averseng, or Chef Andre as I used to call him, was from Avignon, France.
My most recent sauce was a creamy spinach and mushroom sauce. I used it for both chicken and steak on different occasions. I like stuff in my stuff, so I am always adding things and changing things up.
The sauce was a very easy derivative of a bechamel sauce. It was made with heavy whipping cream instead of milk, and white wine, garlic, shallots, tomatoes, spinach and mushrooms, with salt and pepper added and finished with some butter.
I cooked the shallots, garlic, spinach and mushrooms first in olive oil and seasonings, then added the wine and continued cooking until most of the liquid had evaporated.
Once the wine was evaporated, I added the cream.
Bring everything to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and continue to cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring constantly. Add a little butter and mix in thoroughly. At the very end, add the tomatoes and cook just long enough for them to heat up.
When the sauce is ready, serve it over your favorite meats et voila! Bon Appetit! C’est ce bon!
Stay safe and stay well Everyone. ‘Til next time.