Bechamel, or White Sauce, and Variations

Bechamel, or White Sauce, is easy to make and can be dressed up in so many ways! It is delicious with cheese added, for example. You can add puréed porcini mushrooms, puréed cooked button mushrooms, or any variety of spices. It also makes a great base for many vegetable and poultry purées.

This video shows you how to make one cup of basic Bechamel: Click HERE. I like to make it by the quart to have on hand, so here is how to make a quart (you can divide by half or a quarter if you want to make less): INGREDIENTS

  • 1 quart of Milk
  • 1/2 cup butter [= 8 Tablespoons or one stick]
  • 1/2 cup All Purpose Flour [= 8 Tablespoons]
  • Salt and Pepper to taste [I find that about a Teaspoon of Salt works well to start with.]
  1. Put butter into a 2 quart saucepan (at least this size–a bit bigger is fine too) over medium heat.
  2. When the butter has melted and just begins to foam, add the flour and whisk it until it is well blended.
  3. Keep whisking the Roux (this is what the cooked flour and butter mixture is called) while it cooks. It will start forming bubbles that are lighter in color than the rest and will start smelling like bread. After about a minute and a half or two, stop stirring. The Roux should foam up looking whitish. At this point, remove the pot from the heat. [DO NOT LET THE ROUX START GOING BROWN!!]
  4. Whisk in about 1 Cup of milk. Keep whisking until the mixture is smooth. Add another cup of milk. WHisk until smooth again. Repeat with the remaining two cups of milk.
  5. When the Milk/Roux mixture is smooth, return the pot to the medium heat. Whisk until it starts to thicken. Turn the heat down and keep it simmering. Whisk from time to time until it stops getting thicker. About 5-10 minutes.
  6. Add salt and pepper.

Variations [I’m not going to give amounts. I usually add things to about a cup of the sauce or less to keep things varied]:

  • Swiss Cheese and a pinch of Nutmeg [AKA Sauce Mornay] [Add Cheeses to hot sauce just before serving. Cheese Sauces are good with pureed broccoli or spinach, for example]
  • Cheddar, Parmesan, or any flavorful cheese that you like.
  • 1/4 ounce of Dried Porcini pureed with the soaking water (for 1 cup of sauce). [Nice with Quenelles!]
  • Mushrooms sautéed with onions. Purée and add to sauce.
  • Curry Powder
  • Mustard (Coleman’s Powdered or Dijon)
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