Dec 13, 2012 • By

Culinary techniques inspire new Progresso product

We’ve heard it a countless number of times from consumers, “Cooking is fun, but making dinner is a chore.”

So, how did the Progresso team take a classic culinary approach and turn it into a new product to simplify meal creation for home cooks?

Start with history

French “mother sauces” were the four base sauces set out by Antonin Careme, known as the “King of Chefs and the Chef of Kings” in the late 1700s and early 1800s.

In the 19th century, Careme’s original mother sauces were Sauce Tomat, Béchamel, Velouté and Espagnole. In the 20th century, chef August Escoffier, a French chef and culinary celebrity, added the fifth mother sauce – hollandaise.

Mother sauces are the base of nearly every sauce that puts the finishing touch on your dinner.

*Sauce Béchamel is a smooth, white, creamy sauce made from milk and thickened with “blond roux” (equal parts flour and butter). Cheese and mushroom sauces and white “biscuit” gravy are commonly based on Béchamel sauce.

*Sauce Velouté is a mild, velvety sauce made from stock and thickened with blond roux. Turkey and chicken gravies and stroganoff sauce are commonly based on Velouté.

*Sauce Tomat is a smooth tomato sauce with no thickening. Marinara, puttanesca and arrabiata sauces are all variations of Sauce Tomat.

*Sauce Espagnole is a dark, savory browned meat stock-based sauce thickened with flour. Demi-glace, bordelaise, mushroom and wine reduction sauces are commonly based on Espagnole.

*Sauce Hollandaise is a rich, buttery and smooth egg yolk- and butter-based sauce with fresh lemon juice. Béarnaise is a variation of Hollandaise sauce.

Focus on technique

“It’s about a culinary approach,” says Heidi Teoh, a principal scientist who worked with the Progresso team. “Restaurants use a late-stage customization approach to produce the many dishes on a menu from basic elements and sauces. The mother sauces are part of the backbone of a restaurant kitchen line. From these five basic sauces, an endless variety of sauces and dishes can be made.”

Progresso Recipe Starters were designed with that approach in mind, says Heidi. A line of flavorful and distinct sauces that allow home cooks to create any number of recipes with no extra time spent in the kitchen. “It’s like a head start on dinner,” she says.

The finished product

It took the Progresso team three years from idea to launch of Recipe Starters, but they can now guarantee dinner will get to the table much more quickly than that!

From the traditional mother sauces to today, consumers can now find Creamy Parmesan Basil and Creamy Portabella Mushroom (based on Béchamel), Creamy Roasted Garlic with Chicken Stock (based on Velouté), Fire Roasted Tomato (based on Tomat) and Creamy Three Cheese (based on Sauce Mornay – or cheese-fortified Béchamel).

Progresso Recipe Starters were designed to be the one item in the pantry that accomplishes prep work and culinary technique for you, so you can be a weeknight gourmet.

Easy Weeknight Bacon Mac ‘n Cheese

For inspiration – sometimes the biggest roadblock to getting dinner on the table – Progresso worked with the Betty Crocker Kitchens to create more than 100 recipes utilizing these cooking sauces and has made them very easy to find — one recipe is included on every label of Progresso Recipe Starters, as well as a QR code that unlocks 30 more weeknight dinner ideas.

Most of these simple recipe ideas require seven or fewer ingredients (many of which might already be on-hand), and more than half can be prepared in 30 minutes or less.

And, in November, Progresso added special “Holiday Sides” recipe collections on that give consumers delicious, easy ideas for holiday sides using Recipe Starters cooking sauces.