When used to describe a garnish, à l’Agnès Sorel is a French phrase that means mushrooms, truffles and pickled tongue, along with small amounts of white rice.
When used to indicate a sauce, the phrase means stock taken from the meat you have cooked, into which you mix Madeira and a demi-glace sauce.
Literature & Lore
À l’Agnès Sorel has nothing to do with Sorrel (the herb, spelt with two r’s.)
Rather, it refers to the woman Agnès Sorel (c. 1422 – 1450) who for six years (from 1444 until her death) was the paramour of King Charles VII of France. Though only in her very early 20s, she was so powerful and influential that she was called the “reine sans couronne” (Queen without a crown.)
After centuries of rumours that she was poisoned to get her out of the way, her bones were exhumed and analysed in 2006. The analysis revealed a extreme case of mercury poisoning, though no conclusions could be made as to whether she unwittingly did it to herself (mercury salts were still used as a medication at the time.)