Espagnole Sauce is a rich, beefy sauce with a complex flavor profile. Generally used as a base for other sauces, this recipe is simple to prepare and has many uses in cooking.
A vital chapter in culinary school is exclusively focussed on stocks and sauces, in particular the five mother sauces of classic French cuisine. These five sauces include Bechamel, Tomato, Hollandaise, Veloute, and Espagnole sauces. Similar to bechamel and veloute, this sauce relies on a roux for thickening. The roux is then combined with stock. For Espagnole, this means beef or veal stock.
This sauce is complex in flavor thanks to mirepoix (carrot, celery, and onion), tomato puree, and bay leaf. Espagnole sauce is a building block for many other sauce recipes. It is gravy-like in texture with a rich, velvety mouthfeel.
What is Espagnole Sauce?
Espagnole sauce is a veal or beef stock-based sauce that is thickened with a roux. This sauce originated in Spain but was popularized by Auguste Escoffier (the father of modern food science). While generally not served on its own, but used as a base for other rich sauces, Espagnole sauce is strong in flavor. On its own, the flavor can sometimes come off as unpleasant but when used as a base alongside other ingredients, it is delicious.
- Mirepoix (carrot, onion, and celery) - This infamous trio of vegetables is elementary for flavor. Commonly used in soups, stocks, and sauces, mirepoix is a prime component to the complexity of this sauce recipe.
- Unsalted Butter
- All-Purpose Flour - The flour creates the brown roux alongside the butter and mirepoix. The roux is the primary thickening agent of the sauce.
- Beef Stock (reduced-sodium or homemade) - This dark sauce is made with either beef or veal stock. Because veal stock is not commonly found in grocery stores, this recipe uses beef stock. Use low-sodium stock for this recipe and reintroduce salt at the end of cooking. Why? The reduction process concentrates the saltiness.
- Tomato Paste (puree) - Tomato puree adds color and taste. It also contributes to the complex flavors of this sauce.
- Whole Black Peppercorns
- Bay Leaf
- Salt and Pepper (optional) - To taste.
How to Make Espagnole Sauce
Espagnole sauce is made with a dark brown roux and brown stock. It utilizes vegetables, peppercorns, and bay leaf for flavor. And, makes use of tomato puree for acidity and color.
In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mirepoix (carrot, onion, and celery) and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.
Add the flour and cook the roux over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook until brown, about 7-10 minutes.
Pour in the hot beef stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, in a steady stream. Stir in the tomato paste, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes, uncovered until the sauce has reduced. Stir occasionally and skim the fat off of the top surface.
Run the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids.
Tips for Success
Skim the Fat - As this sauce simmers, the fat will rise to the top and form a skin. Throughout its cooking and reduction, gently skim the fat that arises on the top surface of the sauce.
Use a Sachet - Wrap the peppercorns, bay leaf, and herbs (if desired) in a cheesecloth and tie it closed with a long piece of twine. This allows for easy flavor infusion and less mess later. Simply remove the sachet after cooking.
What To Serve With This Sauce
As stated above, Espagnole sauce is generally not served on its own but utilized as a base for other delicious sauces. This beefy sauce is commonly served with red meats like steak, beef tenderloin, or short ribs. However, completed sauces utilizing Espagnole sauce as their base can be served with chicken, pork, or lamb as well. What are Espagnole sauce's derivatives? See below.
- Demi-Glace (half-glaze) - Demi-glace is a 1:1 ratio of one part Espagnole and one part beef stock. Like its counterpart, Espagnole, it is often used as a building block for other sauces.
- Africaine Sauce - A brown sauce flavored with tomatoes, onions, and herbs.
- Bigarade Sauce - A complex sauce flavored with oranges and citrus.
- Bercy Sauce - Uses demi-glace with white wine and shallots.
- Chasseur Sauce - Otherwise known as "Hunter's Sauce", this brown sauce is made with mushrooms and shallots.
- Charcuterie Sauce - A delectable mushroom-focused sauce.
- Bourguignonne Sauce - This sauce is the prime component for the infamous beef bourguignon. It brown sauce made with red wine, onions, and herbs.
Other Sauce Recipes You Will Love
Frequently Asked Questions
Demi-glace is made with a one-to-one ratio of Espagnole sauce and stock.
Store completely cooled sauce in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.
While you certainly can freeze this sauce, I would advise against doing so. If desired, transfer the cooled sauce to an airtight container and freeze for up to three months.
Espagnole sauce is versatile in its use and complex in flavor. One of the five mother sauces of French cooking, it is an important recipe to know. Add this rich, beefy sauce to your cooking repertoire to impress all of your friends.
- 1 small carrot peeled and coarsely chopped
- ½ yellow onion coarsely chopped
- 1 rib celery coarsely chopped
- 4 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 3 tablespoon all-purpose flour
- 3 cups reduced-sodium beef stock hot
- 2 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 bay leaf
- 8 whole black peppercorns
- salt and pepper to taste, if desired
- In a large saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the mirepoix (carrot, onion, and celery) and cook until golden, about 8 minutes. Stir occasionally.
- Add the flour and cook the roux over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Cook until brown, about 7-10 minutes.
- Pour the hot beef stock, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, in a steady stream. Stir in the tomato paste, bay leaf, and peppercorns. Bring the mixture to a boil, stirring frequently.
- Reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes, uncovered, until the sauce has reduced. Stir occasionally and skim the fat off of the top surface.
- Run the sauce through a fine-mesh strainer and discard the solids.
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