This is a common question that we are always being asked. I had planned to answer this question in our #askmax blog, but I felt it was such an important issue that it needed to be answered in full!
Classical French cookery has very many basic principles, as outlined in Larousse Gastronomique, from which most modern cookery originated. There are 5 ‘Mother Sauces’, from which all traditional sauces are made. One of which is ‘Sauce Espagnole’, essentially a dark, roasted beef stock.
Over time, many chefs have decided to adapt this to using chicken wings/bones instead of the beef bones. This results in a comparably gelatinous stock, but retains a certain lightness. The idea is that this stock provides body to the finished sauce.
To make the finished sauce, trimmings and vegetables are roasted before lots of wine is then added and reduced. The stock is poured over, simmered, strained and then reduced again. This provides the classic, shiny, slightly sticky sauce which we regularly use for our meat dishes. This is however, rather time consuming in a domestic sense.
A gravy, is a thickened pan juice. The idea is that the cooking juices which escape the meat upon cooking are thickened to provide an accompanying sauce to the dish. This will not however have the same depth of flavour as a finished sauce.
A Jus, is simply a French translation for gravy. So in theory, they are the exact same thing!
If you fancy making yourself a really luxurious sauce at home for a special occasion, why not try my Beef sauce recipe below?
Beef & Red Wine Sauce
1 kg beef trimmings/rib bones (cut to small dice)
1 bottle red wine
1 L Good Quality Beef stock
2 Shallots (Finely Sliced)
1 Carrot (Peeled and Diced)
1/2 leek (Washed and Sliced)
1 Celery Stalk (Washed and Diced)
1 head of garlic (1/2’d)
3 sprigs thyme
- In a heavy bottomed saucepan, heat 2 tbsp beef dripping until smoking hot.
- Add beef trimmings, and roast until golden brown. They should look deep fried by the end. This is where the flavour is built!
- Add vegetables, continue to brown until a deep golden brown is reached.
- Strain through a sieve, and discard the fat.
- Return pan to the heat, then add the red wine (deglace). Scrape bottom. This is important, you want to get all of that lovely caramel off on the bottom of the pan.
- Add meat/veg back in and reduce wine by ½.
- Add beef stock, bring to a boil.
- Once a boil is achieved then turn down to a simmer for 45 minutes. (This is where the flavours will infuse into the sauce)
- After 45 minutes at a simmer, carefully strain the sauce through a very fine sieve, into a clean pan.
- Finally, bring the sauce to a boil and reduce it by further boiling, until it almost coats the back of a spoon. Season to taste.