Sunday, March 7, 2010

toolbox: béchamel

“Sauces” according to the maven of cookery Julia Child, “are the splendor and glory of French cooking”.

One of the sauces that I have in my toolbox and turn to most often is the traditional White Sauce or Béchamel. This basic sauce is referred to as the “Mother of Sauces” for it is the base for a roster of other sauces. It takes about 5 minutes to make, and can be used as is, or can be built upon with the addition other enrichments.

Béchamel is traditionally made by whisking scalded milk gradually into a white flour butter roux (equal parts butter and flour). I use this basic sauce as a layer within my Lasagna Bolognaise, or as the base for cream soups, and soufflés. With the simple addition of some nutmeg and white cheddar it becomes the vehicle that turns ordinary elbow macaroni into Mac n’ Cheese bliss.

So if this sauce isn’t in your ‘toolbox’ yet you might consider adding it, for as Julia says “It would be hard for the everyday cook to get along without these good simple sauces”.


Sauce Béchamel (White Sauce)
Adapted from Julia Childs'  Mastering the Art of French Cooking

2 Tbsp. butter
3 Tbsp. flour
2 cups milk, heated to the boil in a small saucepan

In a saucepan melt the butter over low heat. Blend in the flour, and cook slowly, stirring, until the butter and flour froth together for 2 minutes without coloring. This is now a white roux.

Remove roux from heat, and pour in the hot milk all the while beating vigorously with a wire whisk to blend the milk and roux together. Set the saucepan over moderately high heat and stir with a wire whisk until the sauce comes to the boil. Boil for 1 minute, stirring.

Remove from heat, and beat in salt and pepper to taste. Sauce is now ready to be used as is or can have other final flavorings or ingredients added to it.

If not used immediately, float a thin film of milk or melted butter on top to prevent a skin from forming on its surface. Set aside uncovered, keep it hot over simmering water, refrigerate, or freeze it.

makes 2 cups

1 comment:

  1. This sounds prety easy. I'always lookng for a creamy type gravy for chicken and potatoes. Thanks.