Clay's Kitchen : Sauce and Stock Recipes

Sauce and Stock Recipes

© Copyright 1995-2017, Clay Irving <>, Manhattan Beach, CA USA

 Subscribe in a reader |
Share |

Béchamel Sauce [ A Mother Sauce ]

See: Mother Sauce

Recipe from: The Fannie Farmer Cookbook by Marion Cunningham
Servings: About 1 cup

The housewife in the 17th Century did not have the luxury of modern refrigeration, they were wary of using milk in their recipes. Peddlers were known to sell watered down or rancid produce. Basically, only the rich or royalty could use milk in their sauces.

In France, it is one of the four basic sauces called "meres" or "mother sauces" from which all other sauces derive. It is also know as "white sauce." It is a smooth, white sauce made from a roux made with flour, boiled milk, and butter. It is usually served with white meats, eggs, and vegetables. It forms the basis of many other sauces. [1]

This used to be one of the first lessons in home economics classes; invariably white and pasty, it coated many a bland dish. When well made, however, it has a proper place in homey, creamed dishes, often making leftovers stretch or giving cooked foods new life. And it is important as a base for soufflés. The French term for this medium-thick white sauce is béchamel. The foolproof way to attain a perfectly smooth sauce is to have the milk hot when added to the butter and flour. It uses an extra pot, but as you become more proficient, this cautionary measure may not be necessary.

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 ¼ cups milk, heated
freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

Other sauces derived from Béchamel Sauce

Cheese SauceAdd grated Cheddar cheese, a dash of cayenne pepper, and dry mustard
Curry SauceAdd 2 teaspoons of curry powder to the butter for 2 minutes before adding the flour
Sauce Albert, Horseradish SauceAdd horseradish, whipping cream, and sugar
Mornay SauceAdd grated cheese and hot sauce — Season with mustard or Worchestire Sauce
Mustard SauceAdd dry mustard or Dijon mustard
Sauce SoubiseAdd pureed onion

1 From What's Cooking America, History of Sauces

Search for Recipes, Search using Google, or Return to Cookbook Index