Sometimes referred to as a grand sauce, the mother sauce is simply the basic sauce that provides the foundation for a number of different types of sauces. Generally, culinary experts classify grand sauces in five basic categories. Any type of mother sauce may be augmented or enhanced for a specific recipe by the addition of ingredients above and beyond the basic components of the sauce.
Perhaps the most popular mother sauce of all is the brown sauce. This type of sauce is created using some sort of brown stock, such as red meat drippings, as the basis for the recipe. Mushrooms are also often used to create this type of mother sauce. Enhanced with a variety of spices and herbs, the brown sauce lends itself very well to serving with various types of beef and pork.
Along with brown sauces, tomato sauces are extremely popular in many different types of cuisine. Spaghetti and various pasta sauces are example of these types of tasty concoctions. This basic mother sauce can be enhanced by adding in various types of meat, chunky vegetables such as zucchini, and spices like garlic, oregano, or parsley.
Emulsions are examples of a mother sauce that is created using an egg base, particularly the egg white. Mayonnaise, Hollandaise sauce, and similar sauces fall into this category. Emulsions work very well when served over pasta, chicken, and a variety of steamed or cooked vegetables.
Veloute is a classification of the mother sauce that is made with some sort of white stock and the addition of roux. This flavorful sauce is light and just enough to add a little extra taste to the dish without overpowering the taste of the main ingredients. French sauces that are examples of veloute include Allemande and White Bordelaise.
A fifth category of mother sauce is Bechamel. These sauces will use milk as the base ingredient, paired with a pale roux. Generally, whole fresh milk is recommended in order to achieve the creamiest texture and highest concentration of flavor. Sauces in this category include Mornay, Soubise, and Crème sauce.
Any mother sauce can be customized to fit the individual tastes and requirements of the chef and those who will consume the finished culinary creation. In some cases, the mother sauce is served over the entrée, while at other times the sauce will be available on the side. This allows each person to enjoy as much or as little of the sauce as he or she wishes.