Recipe courtesy of Amy Stevenson for Food Network Kitchen

Sauce Espagnole

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 1 hr 15 min
  • Active: 45 min
  • Yield: about 4 cups
This classic brown sauce is one of the five French mother sauces and is used as the base of a number of sauces that are served with meat or poultry, including Bordelaise, Robert, Chasseur, Madeira, Estragon and Diable. The key to sauce espagnole is to slowly cook the roux so it becomes brown without burning. If you’re nervous, you can begin with clarified butter, which has a high smoke point. The classic version is made with homemade veal stock. Beef stock will work, though it will give the final sauce a slightly different flavor. If homemade stock isn’t available, choose the best low- or no-sodium stock you can find. Instead of adding salt to this base sauce, you’ll add it to your final dish since the saltiness of the additional ingredients will vary.



  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste. Cook, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon and lowering the heat as needed to prevent burning, until the roux is several shades darker than peanut butter, 18 to 20 minutes.
  2. Stir in the carrots, celery and onions and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste, then whisk in the white wine and cook until the mixture thickens, 1 to 2 minutes. Don’t worry if the vegetables get stuck in the whisk; as you add more liquid, they will release and combine with the sauce. Whisk in the stock, 1 cup at a time, and lower the heat to a simmer.
  3. To make a bouquet garni, place the peppercorns, parsley, thyme and bay leaves and in a square of cheesecloth and tie it into a bundle with kitchen twine. Submerge the bouquet garni in the sauce.
  4. Simmer the sauce, using a spoon to skim off any fat or scum that rises to the surface, until it reduces by half and has the consistency of gravy, 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Remove the bouquet garni, then strain the sauce through a fine-mesh sieve or cheesecloth. Use as desired as a base for sauces.

Cook’s Note

The sauce can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. Alternatively, store in four 1-cup airtight containers for up to 6 months.