Espagnole Sauce was one of the five classic French ‘mother sauces’ that were popularised by legendary chef and restaurateur Auguste Escoffier in the late 19th / early 20th Century. Espagnole is the base of many ‘daughter sauces’ including Chasseur and Bourguignonne and is also often served by itself, usually as an accompaniment to meaty dishes.
This Edwardian recipe for Espagnole Sauce was taught in the National Training School for Cookery in London more than 110 years ago; a school attended primarily by ladies who wished to become cookery teachers themselves. The school would regularly invite a range of renowned celebrity chefs to pass on their knowledge to eager pupils who’d have paid a small fortune for their place on the course. This recipe, along with that for the steak dish we served it with, was taught as part of the High-Class Cookery Recipes course. With “high class” Edwardian cuisine being dominated by rich foods with bold flavours and dinners of several courses that would need to compete with each other to be remembered, you would expect nothing less than a true taste sensation from this sauce. Well, let us put it this way: we couldn’t get enough of the stuff.
Original Recipe: 'Espagnole' (Book 2, 1909)
Speed: 45 mins
Makes: 1 ½ pints
1 ¾ pints Beef Stock
2oz / 57g Butter
2oz / 57g Plain Flour
2oz / 57g Lean Bacon (or ham), finely diced
1 Carrot, finely diced
1 small Onion, finely sliced
1 Shallot, finely sliced
6 Mushrooms, sliced
142ml Tomato Purée
1 small Bouquet Garni (ours was of parsley, thyme, bay leaf)
1 glassful of Sherry or Claret
1. Melt the butter over a low heat in a large pan. Fry the bacon until this begins to colour.
2. Add in the carrot, shallots and onion, stirring in to coat with the butter. Then add the sliced mushrooms and fry for 5 minutes without allowing to brown.
3. Add the flour and stir in to absorb the butter and form a roux. Cook slowly together until this turns a light golden brown.
4. Add one pint of the stock, tomato puree and bouquet garni and allow this to simmer for 30 minutes. At this stage you may find, as we did, that the sauce is too thick. If this is the case, add more stock. We added ¾ pint more stock.
5. Finally, add the sherry and boil up. You may also add in a little more sherry if the sauce is still too thick for your liking.
5. Strain through a sieve and serve hot.
Original Recipe for 'Espagnole'
'BOOK 2': High-Class Cookery Recipes for the National Training School of Cookery, 11th Edition (1909)
Author: Mrs Charles Clarke, Principal of the National Training School of Cookery
Publisher: William Clowes & Sons Limited (23 Cockspur Street, S.W. London, England, U.K.)