Basic Brown Sauce

As dispiriting a name as white sauce but inescapably useful. All the best brown sauces depend on using very good stock which has been strengthened (see Brown Stock) and reduced. Only reduction by boiling can give the sauce its proper coating consistency.


  • 2 oz. (60 g.) butter
  • oz. (45 g.) flour
  • ½ pint (3 dl.) very good brown stock, reduced from its original quantity
  • squeeze of lemon juice


A strengthened first stock is best of all but any strong well-flavoured stock will do.

Melt the butter, stir in the flour and allow to colour but not to burn. This takes 4 or 5 minutes, stirring over a fairly low heat. Stir in the stock, bring to the boil and add salt and pepper (unless the stock is already highly seasoned) and a little lemon juice.

Add a glass of claret or of port, a pinch of mace, a dessertspoon of red-currant jelly, a teaspoon of anchovy essence and of Worcester sauce, and you have a sauce almost exactly like Reform Sauce and very good indeed with hare or venison, steak or chops.

* Born Hester Lynch (1741–1831), married Henry Thrale and then Gabriele Piozzi. Dr Johnson had more or less lived with the Thrales, and the widow’s second marriage almost broke his heart.