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A Saucy Series, Part I: Espagnole

Welcome to guest blogger Deana Sidney of Lost Past Remembered, a blog dedicated to discovering, replicating and adapting historic recipes. In this saucy series she demystifies one of the cornerstones of classic French cuisine: the mother sauces.

Holy Mother of Sauces
Lots of people are a bit afraid of French sauces because they think they are too complicated and not worth the effort.  I think they are so wrong. Take a little time on a weekend to make the great base, Sauce Espagnole, and then you are good to go for so many sauces that are made from it; Bourguignonne, Champignon, Bigarade and a million others come from Espagnole, and can be used on all varieties of meat, fowl and game. I make a batch of Espagnole and freeze it in 1 cup bags so I can make a “fancy” dinner in no time, even on a weeknight. I have even come up with a shortcut to Espagnole that is a winner. If you want a more classic, long version of Espagnole Sauce with some history of “Mother Sauces,” visit my blog.

Sauce Chevreuil is a brown sauce made with Espagnole; adding port and currant jelly makes it perfect on venison, beef or even duck (try it on duck breast). It really is finger-licking good with a silky texture that will make you fall in love with it.

If you make the sauces in advance, you can do a dinner like this in no time at all…don’t forget the Stilton Mashed Potatoes, they are so good!

Deana Sidney Venison with Chevreuil Sauce

Deana Sidney’s Venison with Chevreuil Sauce and Stilton Mashed Potatoes

Quick Version of Espagnole Sauce

4 T butter
4 T flour
3 T diced carrot
3 T diced onion
3 T bacon
2 c stock
1 t thyme
piece of bay leaf
2 T white wine
1/4 c demi-glace
2 T tomato sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Melt your butter and add the flour on a low to medium flame.  Stir regularly until the mixture turns a medium brown… kind of a medium caramel color.   Don’t let it get too dark.  This takes 5-10 minutes.

Add the vegetables, ham and bacon to the roux and stir.  Slowly add the stock, wine and demi-glace.  Cook over a low flame for 45 minutes and add the tomato sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes and strain, pressing on the solids.  Add salt and pepper to taste

To make a brown roux, melt your butter and add the flour on a low to medium flame.  Stir regularly until the mixture turns a medium brown… kind of a medium caramel color.  Remove from the stove and use.  Don’t let it get too dark.  This takes 5-10 minutes.

Chevreuil Sauce (an amalgam of many recipes)

1 T butter
2 T chopped shallot
2 T ham
any venison trimmings you may have (optional)
2 chopped mushrooms
bouquet garni (parsley, thyme, bay and sage tied up)
¼ c wine vinegar
1 c Espagnole
2 t Worcestershire sauce
1 mashed anchovy
1 c   demi-glace or stock
3 oz port
1 T red currant jelly
pinch of cayenne

Sauté the shallot, ham, venison trimmings and mushrooms in the butter till softened.  Toss in the bouquet garni and add the vinegar.  Reduce till syrupy and add the Espagnole, stock, Worcestershire, and anchovy.  Cook for ½ an hour at low heat or till thickened. Strain, pressing on the solids and add the red currant jelly, port and cayenne.

Boneless Venison Steak for 2

2 venison steaks or tenderloin  (4 – 6 oz each serving)
salt and pepper
2 T butter
3-4 chanterelle and/or shitake mushrooms, sliced

Heat oven 400º

Heat a cast iron skillet till hot. Salt and pepper the steak. Put in the butter to melt and add the mushrooms and steak.  Sear on one side and then the other, stirring the mushrooms as you do.

Flip and put in a 400º oven for 5 minutes for rare.

Remove from oven and put the meat on a plate and tent for 5 minutes.  Take the mushrooms and add the Chevreuil Sauce to warm.  Pour over the meat and serve.

Note: if you use beef filet, the technique is the same

Stilton Mashed potatoes for 2

6 blue potatoes peeled or unpeeled
2 T butter
½ c milk
¼ cup crumbled stilton or to taste
pinch of mace
Salt and pepper to taste

Boil the potatoes until tender and drain.  Add the rest of the ingredients and mash.

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  1. A Saucy Series, Part II | D'Artagnan

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