White sauce (Béchamel) is what the French refer to as a "mother sauce." It is a basic sauce that is ideal for bringing out the flavor of delicate dishes. Also known as white sauce, béchamel goes well with vegetables and chicken and fish dishes. This sauce is not as common today as it once was, but it is still ideal for certain dishes. And some of the old recipes are worth trying.
Combining a fat with flour is a roux and is the base for other French white sauces –
The first one is the basic Béchamel.
Makes about 2 cups
· 2 tablespoons Butter
· 3 tablespoons Flour
· 2 cups Milk
· 1/4 teaspoon Salt
· Pinch White pepper
1. Heat the butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook the flour-butter mixture (roux) for 1-2 minutes, or until it turns a light blond color. Do not brown.
2. Whisk in the cold milk all at once. Continue whisking until the sauce comes to a boil. Reduce to low heat and stir in the salt, pepper. Simmer for 15-30 minutes. And there you have it!
You can add any of the following to make it specific.
· Cream sauce : used with vegetables, fish, chicken or eggs.
Stir 1/2 cup of heavy cream and a squeeze of lemon juice into 2 cups of the basic béchamel.
· Creamy onion sauce : goes well with fish and poultry.
Slowly sauté about 1 pound of sliced white onions in some butter until they wilt completely. Do not allow them to brown. Add 2 cups of the basic béchamel.
Cover and simmer slowly about 20-30 minutes. Puree, strain through a sieve and serve.
· Cheese sauce : used for vegetables, gratins, macaroni (Mac and Cheese), eggs and hors d'oeuvres.
Stir 1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated or crumbled cheese into 2 cups of hot basic béchamel until it is completely melted. Cheeses to use are Parmesan, Swiss, cheddar, or blue cheese.
Note: Make sure not to bring it to a boil or it will be stringy.
· Mustard sauce : used with fish or ham.
Mix in 2-4 tablespoons of Dijon or other mustard to 2 cups of the basic béchamel.
· Tomato cream sauce : used with vegetables, fish, chicken or eggs.
Whisk 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste into 2 cups of the basic béchamel.