I first learned to make a simple white sauce in junior high. My introduction to this culinary version of a house's foundation was to make a dish called creamed peas.
The instruction was to make a white sauce, then add it to drained, canned peas. Let me just go ahead and say it... YUCK! I can think of many ways to teach someone about white sauce, but this would not be my go-to recipe.
The first time I made this sauce, I did not have a good grasp of the importance of the roux (pronounced roo, as in Kanga's offspring.) This combination of melted butter and flour is the thickening agent.
Now mavenettes, who can tell me why it is important to know how to make a good bechamel? Answer: It is a structural recipe... Let me explain.
Here are just a few dishes that contain this simple sauce: White pizza, (Yes, pizza,) Bolognese Lasagne, anything with GRAVY. Many casseroles start with a bechamel or gravy base.
One of my favorite vegetable dishes is Broccoli Au Gratin, a casserole made with blanched broccoli, bechamel, swiss cheese, topped with bread crumbs and baked in the oven... yum!
So, here is your assignment: get out your favorite flat pan and whisk and practice making this simple sauce. The whisking motion is also good for that under-arm flabby thing... toning while making a quick dinner is just a bonus! (You can thank me later.)
More recipes using your newly discovered bechamel or veloute will follow in future posts and you must be prepared.
Makes 3 cups
1/2 t. salt
Pinch of nutmeg