The French (and by extension Cajuns and Creoles) hold that there are five mother sauces, or sauces mères. These are the Brown Sauce, or “Sauce Espagnole”; the White Sauce, or “Sauce Velouté,” (stock and roux), Béchamel (milk and white roux), Hollandaise (butter and egg yolks) and Tomato sauce. These are the foundation of most of our elegant sauces. Creole cooks are famous for their splendid sauces, and the perfect creation of a good sauce is considered an indispensable part of the culinary arts.

The first thing to learn in making sauces of every kind is how to make a good roux, or the foundation mixture of flour and butter, flour and oil, or flour and lard. There are the Brown Roux and the White Roux. In making a Brown Roux never, under any circumstances, use burned or over-browned flour.

Brown Roux/Roux Brun

1 tablespoon butter/lard/oil
1 tablespoon AP Flour

First melt the butter slowly, and gradually add the flour, sprinkling it in and stirring constantly, until the mixture is a nice, delicate brown. It may take upwards of an hour to achieve the right color.

When making a roux for gravies, the proportions are one tablespoon of lard and two of flour. Oil or butter will make a richer gravy than lard will and because of that most cooks prefer to use lard in this case. Because of the recent concerns over trans-fats, butter is quite in vogue for cooking; real lard (not shortening) is also low in trans-fats and less expensive. If properly made, the taste of lard won’t be detected.

If, when making the brown roux, there is even the slightest hint of a burnt odor or over-browning, throw the entire roux away and wash the utensils before proceeding to make another.

White Roux/Roux Blanc

1 tablespoon butter/lard/oil
1 tablespoon AP Flour

Melt the butter slowly in a saucepan, then blend in the flour with a wooden spoon to make a smooth, somewhat loose, paste. Stir over moderate heat until butter and flour foam together for 2 minutes. It should only achieve a buttery yellow color.

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