Sauce Espagnole or Brown Sauce

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Preparation info

  • About

    2 quarts

    • Difficulty


Appears in

New York Times Menu Cookbook

New York Times Menu Cookbook

By Craig Claiborne

Published 1966

  • About

There is nothing more French than the sauce that is known as espagnole. It is one of the foundation sauces of French cuisine and is nearly as important as wine, shallots, butter and cream. In most recipes written in English, espagnole is translated as “brown sauce.” Brown sauce is easy to prepare, but it is time-consuming. It frequently is combined with a reduction of butter, shallots and wine as an accompaniment to grilled meats, poultry and game. It is also used to enrich stews and ragouts.

There is nothing that is a perfect substitute for brown sauce, but the closest approximation is canned beef gravy, which may be used in any recipe calling for brown sauce.


  • 5 pounds veal bones, cracked
  • 1 large onion, quartered
  • 2 celery ribs with leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 5 small carrots, peeled and quartered
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon crushed peppercorns
  • 3 garlic cloves, unpeeled
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 12 cups water
  • cups tomato purée
  • ½ cup chopped leeks, green part
  • 3 parsley sprigs


  1. Preheat oven to hot (475°F.).

  2. Combine the bones, onion, celery, carrots, thyme, bay leaves, peppercorns, garlic and salt in an open roasting pan. Bake for forty-five minutes. Reduce the oven temperature if necessary to keep the bones from burning, but do not add any liquid to the pan.

  3. Sprinkle the bones with the flour. Stir the bones with a two-pronged fork to distribute the flour evenly. Bake for fifteen minutes longer.

  4. Transfer the bones to a large kettle. Add two cups water to the roasting pan and cook over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve brown particles that cling to the bottom and sides of the pan.

  5. Pour the liquid from the roasting pan into the kettle with the bones. Add the tomato purée and remaining water.

  6. Add the leeks and parsley. Bring to a rapid boil and simmer for two hours. Add more liquid if necessary. Skim to remove fat and foam; strain.

  7. The sauce may be frozen and defrosted as needed or it may be stored, tightly sealed, in the refrigerator for several weeks.

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