A recipe to make sauce Espagnole, a classic French sauce.

espagnole sauce
Espagnole or brown sauce is one of the five "mother" sauces of modern French cooking, which a number of other sauces are derived from. As its second name suggests, this sauce is brown in colour and is also very strong in taste. For this reason, a large amount of Espagnole sauce is often made and then smaller amounts of it are used to make other sauces.

Espagnole sauce is typically prepared from vegetables and herbs that are cooked in a brown roux (flour and butter mixture), to which a dark stock (veal or beef) and tomato purée are then added. The sauce is left to simmer for around two hours until it reduces to a thick brown sauce.
The final stage is to pass the sauce through a sieve, which will retain all of the vegetables, lumps and unwanted ingredients.

Traditionally, Espagnole sauce can take several hours to prepare, which is why nowadays a readymade sauce can be bought or you can prepare the sauce at home using a modified quicker version of the recipe.

As the sauce has been made using a dark meat stock, it is always served with beef, pork, lamb and sometimes game.

Other sauces that are derived from Espagnole sauce are:

Madeira sauce: Espagnole sauce mixed with Madeira wine.

Mushroom sauce: Espagnole sauce and mushrooms.

Bordelaise sauce: Espagnole sauce with red wine, shallots and herbs.

Lyonnaise sauce: Espagnole sauce with chopped onions, parsley and white wine.

Try the following recipe for Espagnole sauce to serve with any dish with red meat.

Espagnole (Brown) Sauce

  • ¾ pint (420 ml) of brown meat stock
  • 1 oz (30 g) of butter
  • 1 oz (30 g) chopped streaky bacon
  • 1 chopped carrot
  • 1 chopped shallot
  • 4 tbsp of chopped mushrooms
  • 3 tbsp of flour
  • 2 tbsp of tomato purée
  • 1 bouquet garni
  • salt and pepper
  1. Place the butter in a large saucepan and heat gently until it melts.
  2. Add the chopped bacon and cook for 2 minutes.
  3. Add the chopped vegetables and continue to gently fry all the ingredients until the vegetables have softened.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the flour.
  5. Return the pan to the heat and cook the flour mixture (roux) until it turns a dark brown colour. Do not allow it to burn.
  6. Remove the pan from the heat and whisk in the meat stock a little at a time.
  7. Continue to stir the sauce continuously until it thickens and then add the tomato purée, the bouquet garni and season with salt and pepper.
  8. Reduce the heat and simmer very gently for about an hour.
  9. Skim the top of the sauce from time to time.
  10. When the sauce is ready, you should have a thick brown strong-tasting sauce. Strain the sauce into a new pan through a sieve so that only the liquid passes through.
  11. Serve as you wish or freeze the sauce in individual batches for later use.

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