In France, Bechamel Sauce (bay-shah-mel) is one of the four basic sauces called “meres” or “mother sauces” from which all other sauces derive. Bechamel Sauce is also know as “white sauce” to most cooks. Although bechamel sauce is often referred to as a cream sauce, there is rarely any cream in it. It is a smooth, white sauce made from a Roux (made with flour, milk, and butter). It is usually served with white meats, eggs, and vegetables. It forms the basis of many other sauces. Learn more about the history of Sauces and the four theories on the origin of Bechamel Sauce.
Since this Bechamel Sauce or also called White Sauce is a basic of cooking and is really very easy to make, every cook should know how to make it. The sauce starts with the base of a roux which is equal parts butter and flour. Flour is whisked into melted butter and cooked until bubbly to form the roux which acts as the thickening base for a white sauce. Milk is then added and cooked slowly over low heat until thickened as a sauce.
The key is to cook the roux slowly so it does not brown. If your butter starts to brown during the roux phase, throw out your roux and start over because the flavor of the sauce will be ruined! Customary seasonings for a white sauce are salt and pepper. In Italy, a pinch of nutmeg is also added.
A good white sauce is very versatile as it is the basis of many other sauce variations that can be served with white meats (chicken or fish), eggs, and vegetables.
Classic Bechamel Sauce – Basic White Sauce Recipe:
White Sauce Variation Ideas:
Brown Sauce: When making the flour and butter roux, keep stirring constantly until the mixture starts to turn brown. You can also use chicken or beef stock in place of the milk. Different roux are dictated by the amount of time they spend in the pan and categorized by their color. As your roux gets darker, it gains flavor and color but loses some of its thickening power. Learn how to make a Louisiana Roux.
Cheddar Cheese Sauce: Make the Basic White Sauce recipe. After the white sauce has thickened, remove from heat and stir in 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, 2 teaspoon dry mustard, and 1 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce until the cheese is melted and smooth.
Cream of Chicken: Using basic white sauce recipe, replace the 2 cups of milk with 1 cup milk and 1 cup chicken stock (can also substitute vegetable, mushroom, or celery stock instead of chicken stock to change the flavor variation).
Creme Sauce: Heavy cream is used in place of the milk in the Basic White Sauce recipe.
Curry Sauce: When making the Basic White Sauce, add 1 to 3 teaspoons curry powder (or to taste) to the melted butter. Let simmer for about 1 minutes before adding the flour. Continue with the recipe as directed.
Mornay Sauce: Make the Basic White Sauce recipe. After the white sauce has thickened, remove from heat and stir in 1/2 cup grated Swiss, Gruyere, or Emmanthal cheese until melted and smooth.
Mustard Sauce: Make the Basic White Sauce recipe. After the white sauce has thickened, remove from heat and stir in 1 to 2 teaspoons prepared mustard or mustard seeds.
Onion Sauce: When making the Basic White Sauce recipe, saute 1 tablespoon to 1/4 cup minced onion in the melted butter until translucent. Then add the flour and continue with the recipe. This is my favorite way to make and use a white sauce, where minced onion is cooked in butter before adding flour. This variation is wonderful mixed with cooked vegetables such as German Creamed Spinach.
For people that do not like the texture of onions, but enjoy the flavor: In a small sauce over medium-low heat, combine 1/2 to 1 small minced onion with 1 to 2 cloves of chopped garlic in the milk required in the recipe. Simmer in the milk, stirring constantly. Strain the onions/garlic mixture out of the milk before adding the milk with the roux.
Veloute Sauce: Use chicken stock/broth or fish stock instead of milk in the Basic White Sauce recipe.
Categories:Condiments - Sauces - Butters - Relishes - Jam and Jelly Recipe French International Regional Foods