A basic white sauce or Bechamel as the French would say is not very exciting on its own. It’s just a white sauce. But add just a few simple ingredients and a basic white sauce can quickly be turned into something magically delicious. Add spices like nutmeg and pepper for lasagna, add fresh garden herbs like dill or parsley to accompany vegetables, add lemon and herbs for fabulous fish, add mustard for a mustard sauce, add cheese for cheese sauce, add tomato sauce for cream of tomato soup and so on. Making a good white sauce, will open the door to so many wonderful creations, like this kohlrabi in dill sauce.
In this post, I’ll stick to the three classic ingredients for making a basic white sauce: butter, flour and milk. Of course, you can substitute these for other ingredients like margarine, bacon fat, whole wheat flour, water or soup stock – just remember the flavor, texture and end result will vary accordingly. Using soup stock instead of milk was a trick my mom taught me – it’s less creamy than a classic white sauce, but more flavorful.
Classic White Sauce or Bechamel
- 2 tbsp of butter
- 2 tbsp of flour
- 1 cup of warmed milk
- salt and pepper to taste
- In a small saucepan melt butter (do not let brown).
- Sprinkle in flour and mix well.
- Cook and stir for 2 minutes until paste no longer looks greasy (do not let brown).
- In small increments, gradually stir in the warm milk. Stir thoroughly after each addition. Continue to add and stir until all the milk is used and you have the consistency you desire. As the mixture turns from a paste to a sauce I switch from a wooden spoon to a whisk.
- Cook sauce over medium heat for 8-10 minutes until smooth and creamy.
- Add salt and pepper to taste.
- Use as is or add additional ingredients to match your meal.
Do you have any family traditions when it comes to white sauce?