One of Auguste Escoffier’s five mother sauces of classic French cooking, espagnole sauce is a basic brown sauce with a strong taste and its the classical precursor to many modern sauces, most famously the demi-glace. At its most basic, espagnole is prepared from a dark brown roux while adding veal stock or water along with browned bones, pieces of beef, vegetables, brown sugar, and various seasonings. The blend is reduced while frequent skimming occurs. As the liquid gradually reduces, additional veal stock (traditionally) or water (more common today) is added. Toward the end of the process, tomato paste or pureed tomatoes are added and the sauce is reduced further.
Espagnole is rarely served directly on food, but rather serves as the starting point for hundreds of derivative sauces in the French repertoire, examples include Sauce Robert and Sauce Bordelaise. That said, espagnole goes great with roasted red meats and many of its derivatives work with roasted vegetables. Escoffier’s recipe remains the most commonly followed version today. Espagnole is the French word for “Spanish,” however the origin story of the sauce is greatly debated amongst French cooks.
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