3 Sauces Every Home Chef Needs in Their Arsenal

Classical French cuisine is based on the mastery of five "mother sauces," which are considered the bases from which all other sauces are derived. From a creamy white sauce to a versatile brown gravy, mastery of these dishes was once considered vital. While we always appreciate a classic, we're simplifying things for the modern home chef. Taking a cue from some of our favorite celebrity cooks-Mario Batali, Emeril Lagasse, and Giada De Laurentiis-we've narrowed down the endless sauce variations to three basic building blocks of contemporary home cooking: bechamel sauce, espagnole sauce, and classic tomato sauce. Just add additional ingredients to any of these sauce bases to yield endless options for home-cooked deliciousness.
thumb4 Mario Batali's Bechamel Sauce Basically: A simple white sauce. Base For: Cheese and cream sauces. Popular Dishes: Lasagna, Macaroni and Cheese, Moussaka.
thumb Emeril Lagasse's Espagnole Sauce Basically: A thick brown gravy. Base For: Meat sauces, mushroom sauces. Popular Dishes: Beef Bourguignon, Beef Stroganoff.
thumb2 Giada De Laurentiis' Simple Tomato Sauce Basically: A tomato and herb sauce. Base For: Marinara, puttanesca, and provençal sauces. Popular Dishes: Chicken parmesan, Pizza, Spaghetti Bolognese.
Have you already mastered these three culinary building blocks? What other sauces do you consider essential? Let us know in the comments! Photographs: Courtesy of Thrill Billy Gourmet, Eat Little BirdClaire Thomas, Williams-Sonoma, and A Couple Cooks