filling the empty nest with food
In Escoffier’s world there are sauces, there are small sauces, and then there are Mother Sauces. Everyone knows how important sauces are to French cuisine. The Mother Sauces are those from which all other sauces are derived–and there are endless variations on only 4 mother sauces (some say 5 depending on which century you start from). In fact, there seem to be at least 250 sauce recipes in the Escoffier cookbook!
I love that image of a sauce being a mother. The mother sauces are not the sauces you actually eat or pour over your steak, not the ones that make it to the table. They’re a bit in the background but without them, you got, basically, nothin’. Just like with mothers anywhere. Without them, we’re nothin’.
So, I started with a Sauce Velouté. Professional chefs don’t translate it into English, but if you did, it would be called “velvet or velvety” sauce. You could (boringly) call it a white sauce, which technically it is, but it’s like calling a Christian Dior evening gown a dress. It just doesn’t do the Velouté justice.
I made a larger quantity than this recipe, using 125 grams of butter, 150 grams of flour, and 2.4 liters of my ordinary white stock. (I hope I did the math correctly, as Escoffier’s restaurant recipe calls for 625 grams of roux and 5.5 liters of stock.)
Escoffier actually instructs you to simmer the Velouté for 1 1/2 hours to rid the sauce of raw flour taste and to concentrate the flavors. So I did. That long simmering time might put you off. But before you nix the idea of trying this sauce, listen to Julia Child, who said you don’t have to simmer your Velouté for more than a few minutes.
Unless, of course, you want a sauce with finesse.