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Quick Basic Brown Sauce with Variations

No recipe image available.A quick and easy version of brown sauce—also known as Espagnole, one of the 'Five Mother Sauces'—with variations.

Recipe Ingredients:

3 shallots or green onions, finely chopped
3 tablespoons butter
1 cup Madeira or sherry
1 (10.5-ounce) can beef bouillon (not consommé)
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
Pinch thyme
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Beurre manié*

Cooking Directions:

  1. Sauté the chopped shallots or green onions in the butter.
  2. Gradually add the wine and bouillon. Let it come to a boil and add the seasonings. Cook down for a few minutes.
  3. Add beurre manié to thicken to taste. Let simmer for a few minutes and strain.

Makes about 2 cups.

*Beurre manié—French for "kneaded butter"—is a paste made of softened butter and flour (usually in equal parts) that is used to thicken sauces.


  • Bordelaise Sauce: Add a little poached marrow to the brown sauce. Adjust the seasoning and add a touch of chopped parsley.
  • Sauce Diablé: Add 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and a few dashes liquid hot pepper sauce to the brown sauce. Stir well.
  • Sauce Périgueux: Add finely chopped truffles to the brown sauce.