A Mother of Sauces
Béchamel is truly a mother sauce to several other very commonly used sauces, such as Mornay Sauce (Béchamel with the addition of cheese, usually Parmesan or Gruyere), Nantua Sauce (Béchamel with crawfish or shrimp), Soubise (Béchamel with thinly sliced onions), Supreme Sauce (Béchamel with chicken stock) and Mustard Sauce (Béchamel with the addition of a fine whole grain mustard). Béchamel sauce on its own, is a medium thick white sauce.
If you are a cook, but have never heard of Béchamel sauce, chances are you have actually been making it, or a variation, for years. In the South (US), Béchamel is also know as country gravy or white gravy. For those who love macaroni and cheese, this is how that cheese sauce is made. Mac’n Cheese is really a Mornay sauce using different cheeses; for many, a comfort food without comparison.
Béchamel is a medium thick white sauce that has a myriad of uses. It's also known as white gravy for those who don't want to use the French term.
- 5 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp flour
- 4 cups milk hot
- 2 tbsp salt
- 1 tsp white pepper
- 1/2 tsp nutmeg
In a small pot heat the milk to just hot. Remove from heat and keep warm.
In another saucepan melt the butter until fully melted and begins to bubble.
Add the flour to the butter and with a whisk incorporate until thoroughly mixed. Cook this mixture gently for about 1 minute. Do not brown.
Add the milk a little at a time while whisking. Keep adding the milk until all of it has been mixed in. The sauce should come together quite quickly (2-3 minutes), adjust with extra milk if the sauce is too thick.
Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg. Whisk in and remove from heat. Use as desired.