Espagnole: Basic Brown Sauce

This is the second of the famous five (not Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Donald or Daisy) of the mother sauces from which other sauces are made.


½ cup onions, diced

¼ cup carrots, diced

¼ cup celery, diced

1 oz. clarified butter

1 oz. all-purpose flour

3 cups brown stock (i.e. beef stock)

2 Tbsp. tomato purée

1 bay leaf

½ tsp dried thyme

3–4 fresh parsley stems

black pepper

Gravy Master (optional)


Fold the bay leaf, thyme, parley stems and peppercorns in a square of cheese cloth, and tie the corners with a piece of kitchen twine. Leave the string long enough so that you can tie it to the handle of your pot to make it easier to retrieve it.

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over a medium heat until it becomes frothy.

Add the mirepoix (onions, carrots & celery) and sauté for a few minutes until it’s lightly browned.

With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the mirepoix a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated and forms a thick paste (this is your roux). Lower the heat and cook the roux for another five minutes or so, until it just starts to take on a very light brown color. Don’t let it burn, though!

Using a wire whisk, slowly add HOT beef stock and tomato purée to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it’s free of lumps.

Bring to a boil, lower heat, add the sachet and simmer for about 50 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about one-third, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn’t scorch at the bottom of the pan. Use a ladle to skim off any impurities that rise to the surface.

Remove the sauce from the heat and retrieve the sachet. For an extra smooth consistency, carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer lined with a piece of cheesecloth.

Serve hot. If not serving the sauce right away, keep it covered and warm until you are ready.

NOTES: Gravy Master can help turn it a nice deep brown.

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