A Mother of Sauces
Béchamel is genuinely 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 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 been making it, or a variation, for years. In the South (US), Béchamel is also known 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, comfort food without comparison.
Recipes in the Sunset & Sewanee that use Béchamel Sauce: Basic Creamed Spinach, Conchiglie or Seashell Pasta and Cheese
- measuring spoons and cups
- Microplane grater for fresh nutmeg (optional)
- 5 tbsp butter
- 4 tbsp flour, all-purpose
- 4 cups milk, whole hot
- 1½ tbsp salt, kosher
- 1 tsp white pepper, ground
- ½ tsp nutmeg, freshly grated, or store-bought
Heat the Milk Separately
- In a small pot heat the milk to just hot. Do not boil. Remove from heat and keep warm.
Start the Roux
- In another saucepan melt the butter until fully melted and begins to bubble.
- Add the flour to the butter (with a whisk) incorporate until thoroughly mixed. Cook this mixture gently for about 1 minute. Do not brown.
- Next, add the measured milk in thirds while whisking until all the milk is incorporated. The sauce should come together quickly (2-3 minutes), adjust with extra milk if the sauce is too thick.
- Finally, add the salt, ground white pepper, and freshly grated nutmeg. Whisk in and remove from heat. Use as desired.
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