In cooking, espagnole sauce (French pronunciation: [ɛspaɲɔl]) is one of the mother sauces that are the basis of sauce-making in classic French cooking. In the late 19th century, Auguste Escoffier codified the recipe, which is still followed today.
Origin of the name
Although espagnole is the French word for Spanish, the sauce has little connection with Spanish cuisine. According to Louis Diat, the creator of vichyssoise and the author of the classic Gourmet's Basic French Cookbook:
"There is a story that explains why the most important basic brown sauce in French cuisine is called sauce espagnole, or Spanish sauce. According to the story, the Spanish cooks of Louis XIII's bride, Anne, helped to prepare their wedding feast, and insisted upon improving the rich brown sauce of France with Spanish tomatoes. This new sauce was an instant success, and was gratefully named in honor of its creators."
However, in Kettner's Book of the Table published in 1877, there is an entirely different explanation:
(The name Kettner in the title refers to Auguste Kettner, former chef to Napoleon III, who emigrated to England and in 1867 opened a restaurant in Soho–Kettner's– one of the oldest restaurants in London.)
The basic method of making espagnole is to prepare a very dark brown roux, to which veal stock or water is added, along with browned bones, pieces of beef, vegetables, and various seasonings. This blend is allowed to slowly reduce while being frequently skimmed. The classical recipe calls for additional veal stock to be added as the liquid gradually reduces but today water is generally used instead. Tomato paste or pureed tomatoes are added towards the end of the process, and the sauce is further reduced.
Espagnole has a strong taste and is rarely used directly on food. As a mother sauce, however, it serves as the starting point for many derivative sauces, such as Sauce Africaine, Sauce Bigarade, Sauce Bourguignonne, Sauce aux Champignons, Sauce Charcutière, Sauce Chasseur, Sauce Chevreuil and Demi-glace. There are hundreds of other derivatives in the classical French repertoire.
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