Similar to the helpful realization that crêpes are just thin pancakes without baking powder (see crêpe recipe here), I’ve learned, thanks to The Bonne Femme Cookbook, that a Béchamel sauce is just a simple white sauce built from a roux. Béchamel sauce is one of the mother sauces of France. Its versatility finds it in loads of meals like lasagna, pasta and Croque Monsieurs; it’s a simple sauce to top off meat and vegetables and it’s a great way to revive your leftovers with a comfort food flare.
There are essentially FOUR everyday ingredients and FOUR simple steps:
2 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup 2% or whole milk
salt and pepper to taste
freshly ground nutmeg (optional)
1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.
2. Whisk in the flour to make a smooth paste, cook for one minute.
3. Whisk in the milk slowly until smooth.
4. Cook and stir over medium heat until the sauce starts to thicken and bubble, season with salt and pepper and continue to cook for one minute. (If you want to thin out your sauce, just add more milk.)
In the above pic we used dark Breton flour which is why it looks a little darker than usual. We had some leftover pasta, broccoli and ground meat so we threw it all together and topped it with the Béchamel sauce and some Parmesan cheese for a mighty toothsome meal.
Mustard Sauce: Whisk one tablespoon of Dijon mustard into the finished sauce. Serve over vegetables, pork, fish, chicken or potatoes.
Mornay Sauce: Make the sauce with 1 1/4 cups milk instead of 1 1/2 cup. Whisk 1/4 cup shredded Comté or Gruyère cheese and 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese into the finished sauce until melted.
We tried the Mornay sauce over Tagliatelle pasta with bacon, mushrooms and chicken (cooked as directed in this blog on chicken and pan sauces). With those ingredients you can’t go wrong. It was a rich, creamy, belly warming dish prepared in under 30 minutes.