To make about 1.2litres (2pints) espagnole sauce, use approximately 2.4litres (4pints) rich brown meat stock which should have a full flavour and colour, as well as plenty of gelatine from the bones. Espagnole sauce is rarely served on its own, because it takes several hours to make, but instead, is used as a base for other sauces. (See hunter’s sauce.)
Because it does take so long to make, it is worth making a large quantity and freezing some for later use. Freeze in 300ml (½ pint) blocks and reheat from frozen, slowly stirring occasionally, then boiling for 2 minutes.
Bring 2.4 litres (4pints) beef or veal stock to the boil. Simmer and skim the stock until it reduces to about half its original volume. In a second saucepan, heat 75ml (3fl oz) vegetable oil. Add 125g (4oz) diced smoked bacon and cook for 2 minutes. Add 2 diced onions and 2 diced carrots to the saucepan and cook gently until the vegetables begin to soften.
Sprinkle over 50g (2oz) plain flour and stir until well blended. Cook for 4–5 minutes, stirring frequently, until the roux becomes a rich brown colour, taking care not to let it burn. Remove the pan from the heat. Stir three-quarters of the hot stock into the roux and softened vegetables. Return to the heat and bring to the boil, stirring constantly, until the sauce thickens.
Add 1 large bouquet garni, 2 halved small tomatoes, 2tablespoonstomato puree, and simmer for 2–3 hours, uncovered, skimming often. Reheat the remaining stock and add little by little to the saucepan as the sauce thickens and reduces. Strain the sauce, if you like, before using. Stir in 25-40 g (1-1½ oz) diced chilled butter and season if necessary