Of all of the sauces that I make, I think this is the most important one to learn how to make. It isn’t difficult, and I use it the most. After all, it isn’t nicknamed the “Queen mother of French sauces” for no reason!
This is my go-to, stand-by recipe, that’s a bit richer than most people’s because they tend to leave out that last important step and ingredient! Without it, to me anyways, it’s just your basic white sauce, and not an extraordinary béchamel. I do use whole milk for this, but you can also use 2%. Originally it was made with cream, but that is just too rich for me!
Béchamel can be used for countless things such as white lasagnas and pizzas, a base for anything that has a gravy such as “S. O. S.” (creamed corned chipped beef on toast), to chicken pot pies, Greek moussaka, and as many cheese sauces as you can possibly dream up for everything from creamed vegetables such as cauliflower and peas, to a decadent mac ‘n cheese! 😉 “Mornay Sauce” is simply béchamel with added gruyere and parmesan! 🙂
You can flavor the sauce with fresh or dried herbs, finely chopped vegetables, garlic or even replace the salt for a quality real-meat bouillon such as Better Than Bouillon!
As you can see, it’s so very handy to know how to make, and it’s something that you already have ingredients for right in your kitchen!
So let’s get started, shall we? (In my best imitation of a French accent!)
This sauce always starts by melting butter….
…and adding an equal amount of flour.
Whisk the flour into the butter over medium-low heat….
….and bring to a simmer, stirring. You have to be careful not to brown the mixture, though, so keep that heat down. This is a “white sauce”, afterall. 😉
(*Sorry for this pic, I had to turn the overhead stove light on so that I could see better, and it always takes on that awful “indoor yellow” color.) It’s actually still a creamy white color.
After simmering and whisking the butter and flour for 2-3 minutes to cook out the “raw flour” taste (so that your sauce doesn’t end up tasting like wallpaper paste!), slowly add the milk whisking in.
Whisk this in really, really well so that you don’t have any lumps, and cook and stir for 3-5 more minutes.
You’ll have a silky smooth white sauce at this point! 😀
I like to completely remove it from the heat now, add the seasonings…..
….temper the egg yolks with a little of the sauce, and whisk that in. “Tempering” simply means to bring the cold mixture up to temperature slowly so that you can marry the two without ending up with, in this case, scrambled eggs. 😉
This is the step that most people don’t do, and there is a huge difference if you don’t the egg yolks.
Cooled down, and dreamy-creamy, silky-smooth and rich!
See, that wasn’t so hard, was it? 😀
You can make thick, medium or thin sauces, and I’d say that this falls somewhere between thick and medium in consistency. If you like it thicker, add a bit less milk, and add more milk for thinner.
But these amounts seem to work perfectly for just about everything.
You can also go “Full Monty” and simmer the milk beforehand with a whole peeled onion studded with garlic and an added bay leaf. Strain and cool down before using. Finishing the sauce with grated nutmeg along with the salt and white pepper is also classic.
I hope that you find this easy, classic béchamel recipe helpful and handy for whenever you need a rich and creamy white sauce! It’s a no-fail recipe, and a cut-above most out there. It really is the “Queen Mother” of all sauces!
Take care all, bundle up, and stay warm!! Until tomorrow, ~Kelly