Béchamel/ white sauce — a classic

Bechamel is one of the classic sauces and is the base for so many dishes. It’s basically one of the primary colours of cooking, so if you don’t know, get to know. Then you can make loads of tasty stuff. Like belly filling lasagnes, cheesy mac and cheese, pasta sauces and fish pies. I think though the best thing to do with it is whack in loads of cheese and make a rarebit.

What you need

  • 20 g plain white flour
  • 40g butter
  • 425 ml milk
  • salt
  • pepper

If you want to be fancy

  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 shallot (chopped up all small)
  • pinch of powdered mace.

If you want to be fancy, add the milk to a saucepan with the chopped up shallots, bay leaf and the mace. Let it come slowly to a simmer and continue to cook like this for about 5 minutes. Don’t bring to a rolling boil. After 5 minutes strain the milk into a jug and discard the stuff you used to flavour that milk. Now leave this milk alone, this can be done ahead of time. If you want a really simple white sauce ignore this and just use plain milk from here onwards.

In a small saucepan add the butter and let it melt completely, but don’t let it brown as this will affect the flavour of the sauce (although for some dishes a slightly burnt butter might taste delicious). As soon as all the butter is melted add the flour. A little at a time whilst stirring vigorously over a medium heat until you have a smooth glossy paste. After a few minutes the flour should all have cooked off.

Now begin to add the milk, a little at a time, and keep stirring. Once this milk has been incorporated, repeat the process untill you’ve got a delicious glossy, creamy sauce. For the next couple of minutes add some pepper and salt and continue to taste. Now you’ve got yourself a tasty white sauce. Pretty good right?

I personally think the best thing to do is add in a load of grated cheddar, some Worcester sauce, a spoon of mustard and some more black pepper. Then you’ve got the best cheese sauce to use in mac and cheese, or even better on a delicious rarebit. Bechamel sauce is a classic and therefore it’s great to learn how to make it.

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