More about brown sauce and small brown sauces.

  • Marchand de vin (“wine merchant’s sauce”).  Remember what I said about bordelaise being my favorite sauce?  Forget that.  Reduce some dry red wine with some shallots, add it to the demi, simmer, and strain.  Heaven.
  • Madeira.  Pretty simple.  Reduce the demi a bit and add some madeira (or ruby port).
  • Périgeux, technically, is a small madeira.  You just add some tidy little dices of truffles to the madeira sauce, and that’s it.  If you add fairly thick slices of truffle instead, it’s called a périgourdine.  They’re both lovely little sauces, but nobody in their right mind would expect you to make them.  Truffles, after all.  Who knows from truffles?
  • Robert.  Sweat some onion in a little butter, add some dry white wine, and reduce it.  Add that to the demi and let it simmer for a little while.  Then add some Dijon mustard and a touch of sugar.  If you add some sliced cornichons, you wind up with an even smaller sauce, known as charcuterie.
  • Piquant.  Reduce some white wine and white wine vinegar (note–white wine vinegar, not distilled white vinegar, which is more of an industrial caustic).  Add your demi and let it simmer for a little while.  Then add some diced cornichons–those cute little French pickles–and some tarragon, parsley, and chervil.  Don’t strain the sauce.
  • Châteaubriand, despite what I said earlier, is probably my most favorite sauce ever.  Reduce some shallots in dry white wine.  Add that to your demi, reduce it, and hit it with some lemon juice and cayenne.  Don’t strain it.  Swirl in some butter, garnish the thing (beef, I would imagine) with some chopped tarragon, and try not to wallow too much in your glory.
  • Poivrade.  Sweat some mirepoix and herbs (I would recommend bay leaf, thyme, and parsley stems).  Add an alarming amount of vinegar, some white wine, and let it reduce to about half.  Add the demi and let it simmer for 45 minutes or so.  Now add a whole bunch of crushed peppercorns–like twenty–simmer it for a few more minutes, put it through a fine strainer, and finish ‘er up with some butter.  Beautiful.
  • Chevreuil.  Forget everything I’ve said before–this here’s probably the best sauce on earth.  Start off like you’re making a poivrade, but add some bacon (or game scraps, if you happen to have any lying around) to the mirepoix.  Top it off with some red wine and cayenne.  Damn!


Come to think of it, the best sauce in the world is–well, I can’t remember the name of the best sauce in the world, unfortunately.  Nobody makes it any more because it’s too expensive and complicated (it involves antelope bones, hare blood, and currant jelly).  If I remember, I’ll let you know right away.

All we have left is tomato sauce and hollandaise, both of which are pretty quick and easy (well, the sauces aren’t, but the explanations are).  We’ll get to them next time.