"There are many sauces besides hunger".
The basis of most sauces is butter and flour cooked together, which makes a roux or thickening. If for a white sauce, the flour is not colored; if for a brown sauce, the flour is cooked until brown. To this basis are added the flavor and seasoning suited to the dish with which it is to be served. For meats, it is the flavor of meat, vegetables, spices, and herbs; for entrees, it is the flavor of meat or chicken, and cream; for vegetables it is butter, cream or milk, and eggs; for fish, the same, with a little lemon-juice or vinegar to give piquancy. The basis of pudding sauces is butter and sugar.
Sauces are easily made, and greatly improve the dishes they accompany. Many dishes depend upon sauces to make them palatable, and many made-over dishes are very acceptable when served with a good sauce. The first and most simple one to learn is the white sauce, and this is used for very many dishes. It is made by melting a tablespoonful of butter, and then adding a tablespoonful of flour. To this roux is added a half pint (one cupful) of milk for white sauce, or of cream for cream sauce. If a cupful of stock (or half stock and half milk) is used it becomes a Bechamel sauce; then, if a couple of egg-yolks are added, it makes a poulette sauce, which is the one generally used with chicken, sweetbreads, oysters, etc.
The superiority of French cooking is largely in the variety of their sauces, to the preparation of which much care is given. It cannot be too strongly urged that every housekeeper will give attention to this important branch of cooking.
Every kitchen can produce a stock made from odds and ends unsuitable for other purposes than the stock-pot, and this stock is most useful in preparing sauces, giving a flavor not obtained in specially prepared stock.
A French cook keeps at hand the different essences required to combine in sauces, such as a Mirepoix (vegetable flavor), which is made by cutting into dice an onion, carrot, and turnip, celery, parsley, bay-leaf and bits of meat, frying them in fat pork or butter, then adding a little water, and simmering an hour, or until the flavor of the vegetables is extracted; a Spanish sauce, made by adding stock instead of water to the fried vegetables; a veal or white stock; a brown and a white roux, and glaze.
The flavor of vegetables can easily be obtained by frying them in the butter used in making the roux, before the flour is added. In preparing sauces with milk, use a double boiler, or set a small saucepan into a larger one containing water. The milk will be scalded when the water boils in the double boiler. Brown sauces need long slow cooking to blend the flavors. If the butter rises to the top add a little more stock or milk; stir it well until it boils, and it will then become smooth again. Do this just before serving. Have always a small strainer at hand, and strain sauces so there will be no lumps in them. If stock is not at hand, substitute beef extract, which comes in jars, using it in the proportion of one teaspoonful of extract to a cupful of hot water. In this case fry vegetables in the roux.
Glaze is much used in high-class cooking. It gives to meats a smooth and polished surface. Cold meats to be garnished for suppers are much improved in appearance by being glazed. Glaze is also added to sauces to give them richness and flavor.
To make glaze: Take good consomme of beef (or a white stock, when it is to be used for fowls or white meat), clear it, and reduce it to one quarter (or one quart of stock to one cupful). It will quickly boil down in an open saucepan and become like a thick paste. It will keep some time if closed in a preserve jar and kept in a cool place. When used, heat it in a double saucepan and apply it with a brush.
One tablespoonful of butter; one tablespoonful of flour.
Roux is used for thickening, giving body to sauces, etc. It is made by cooking together an equal quantity of butter and flour for about five minutes, or until the flour has lost the raw taste. When the roux is cooked, draw the saucepan to a cooler part of the range, and add the liquor (stock or milk) slowly, in the proportion of one cupful of liquor to one tablespoonful each of butter and flour, and stir until smooth. If the roux is for white sauce do not let the flour color. If for brown sauce, let it cook until brown, but be careful that it does not burn. If more flavor is wanted, fry a few slices of onion or other vegetables in the butter before adding the flour. Sauces thickened in this way are much better than those in which uncooked flour is used. In making roux do not use more butter than flour. Where more butter is required in a sauce, add it, in small pieces at a time, after the other ingredients are mixed with the roux. This will prevent an oily line forming.