Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel sauce is the other white sauce mère. It is made by mixing a white roux with milk, très simple. With a Béchamel, you can make a variety of dishes including staples like macaroni and cheese, chicken and dumplings and more complex dishes like moussaka and lasagne. The sauce for the Creole Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe on this blog starts with Béchamel (technically it’s a Mornay sauce since it incoporates cheese). Béchamel sauce’s “children” include Sauce Aurore, Chantilly sauce, Mornay sauce and about 50 other sauces.

Béchamel sauce – Quick and Dirty

4 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 tablespoons AP flour
2 cups cold milk, preferably whole milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon white pepper
optional: dash of nutmeg or cayenne pepper
optional: 1 bay leaf

Start by making a white roux: Use a heavy bottomed saucepan that distributes heat evenly. Put the pan over medium-low heat and add the butter and melt the butter. When the foam subsides take the pan off the heat. Using a flat whisk or wooden spatula, rapidly stir in the flour. Return the pot and stirring every couple of minutes, cook until the flour is a straw color. Whisk in the cold milk, salt, pepper and any optional spices. Turn heat to low and continuing to stir, cook for 20-45 minutes until thickened and smooth. The longer you cook it, the smoother and less grainy it will become.

Be sure to fish out your bay leaf at the end of cooking if you’ve added it to the sauce.

Béchamel sauce – The More Traditional Approach

1 small yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 small carrot, peeled and diced
1/3 celery rib, diced
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/3 cup AP flour
4 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
dash of nutmeg
bouquet garni

First, scald the milk. Remove from heat and set aside. Melt the butter in a small saucepan until the foam stops, then add the diced vegetables and sauté until the onions are translucent. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the flour. Put the pan back on the heat and cook about 5 to 7 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the pan from the heat and slowly whisk in the scalded milk. Return to heat and bring up to a boil, stirring constantly. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg. Add the bouquet garni, lower heat and simmer for 30-35 minutes. Remove and strain the sauce, without pushing on the vegetables.

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