Allemande sauce (a-la-man[d]) What it means

Allemande sauce isn't classified as a mother sauce, but it's an ex-officio member of that exclusive club.

In the early 1800s, French chef Marie-Antoine Careme, who's also credited with inventing the tall hat that chefs wear, organized hundreds of sauces into four categories according to their foundational components. Any sauce based on butter, flour and milk, for example, was grouped under the mother sauce bechamel. The other mother sauces in his system were espagnole, veloute and allemande.

But at the turn of the 20th century, when Auguste Escoffier was committing his vision of classical French cooking to print, allemande was struck from the list. Escoffier considered allemande a variation on veloute, a light stock (meaning its ingredients haven't been browned) thickened with white roux.

To make allemande sauce, cooks carefully add cream and egg yolks to veloute. "Egg yolks will curdle and turn granular unless they are beaten with a bit of cold liquid first," Julia Child and her co-authors warned in "Mastering the Art of French Cooking." The resulting creamy white sauce is good for roasted veal chops, poached chicken and boiled fish, among other dishes.

Early printed recipes for allemande sauce also called for mushroom liquor. The "Royal Cookery Book," published in 1869, describes reducing "1 gill of Essence of Mushrooms" with veloute sauce before adding egg yolks and butter.

Although Allemande means "German" in French, the sauce is fully French. It was so named to differentiate it from the darker Espagnole, or "Spanish" sauce.

During World War I, though, many eaters weren't keen to have anything to do with a German-sounding sauce. Just as French fries were briefly renamed when the U.S. got into a political spat with France, Allemande sauce was labeled Parisienne sauce. Although the term is sometimes still used, "Parisienne sauce" is now more commonly applied to the sauce of cream cheese, olive oil, chervil and lemon juice used to top cold asparagus.

Where to buy it

Since buying premade Allemande sauce isn't an option, perhaps consider purchasing Charleston cookbook author Holly Herrick's "The French Cook: Sauces" instead.

Where we saw it

Bay Street Biergarten's Charleston Restaurant Week menu (Crackling pork shank with Allemande mustard sauce, Three courses for $30)

Where else you can try it

Allemande sauce is in all classically trained chefs' repertoires, but it doesn't often show up on Charleston menus. Restaurants that don't shy away from richness offer other riffs on veloute, though. Husk has served pancetta veloute; Circa 1886 has served muscadine veloute; and lobster veloute is a menu staple at Fleet Landing.

Hanna Raskin