Basic White Sauce or Béchamel Sauce

     Learn how to make a basic white sauce and you will be prepared to make any number of dishes, from soups to casseroles, Mac & Cheese, Eggs à la Golden Rod . . . the list is endless. Vary the ingredients to create thick or thin sauces, add cheese, etc., etc. And, if you really want to impress others, tell them you’ve just made Béchamel (French for white or cream sauce).

Basic White Sauce or Béchamel Sauce
Characteristics:  Unasservtive taste; smooth texture.
Use in cream soups or souffles, creamed dishes such as scalloped potatoes, creamed eggs, creamed vegetables, such as cauliflower, salmon croquettes, to make A La King dishes,etc. Used to thicken, bind, and even to coat ingredients.


Techniques & Procedures: 

                Amounts needed to make 1 cup of White Sauce

INGREDIENTS

& Step by Step PROCEDURES
Thin for Soups
or Starchy Vegetables
Medium for Non-starchy Vegetables
Thick for Casseroles & Souffles
Very Thick for Croquettes
1. Over LOW heat* in saucepan, melt butter or margarine
1 T.
2 T.
3 T.
4 T.
2. Stir in all-purpose flour until smooth and cook 3 to 5 min. to develop flavor.
1 T.
2 T.
3 T.
4 T.
3. Remove from heat and add cold milk.  
Return to MEDIUM heat* & stir constantly
until smooth and thickened. Thickened sauce should coat a wooden spoon. Run your finger down the back of the spoon — a clean line should form & hold.
1 c.
1 c.
1 c.
1 c.
4. Then add salt.  Continue cooking 2 – 3 minutes to improve flavor.
1/2 t.
1/2 t.
1/2 t.
1/2 t.
5. If desired, add pepper or other flavorings
1/8 t. or to taste
1/8 t. or to taste
1/8 t. or to taste
1/8 t. or to taste
Amount of food to add:
1/2 - 3/4 c. mashed
or pureed veg. for soup; for creamed veg, use 2 – 2 1/2 c. diced or sliced

About 2 cups diced or chopped foods


*The starch in flour expands as it is heats and blends with fat.  However, if it cooks too fast, the mixture will be grainy.   So be sure to use low to medium heat, rather than using high temperatures, when preparing flour-based sauces.

 Suggestions: 
o   Make white sauce thicker than needed as it’s easier to thin than to thicken it. Adding additional flour or a flour-water paste to a sauce will result in a floury taste.
o   If sauce is lumpy, strain it through a mesh colander.
Equipment:  1 1/2 to 3 qt. heavy saucepan or double boiler (stainless steel or anodized aluminum preferable to avoid reaction if adding acid foods to the sauce) / Wooden spoon or whisk.

Storage / Holding / Making Ahead:  Store extra sauce in the refrigerator for a few days. To reheat, use a double boiler or the microwave (medium heat setting, checking & stirring about every 2 minutes.). Keep sauce warm, prior to serving, in the top of a double boiler. Cover sauce w/ wax paper to prevent skin from forming.  Or make the roux ahead of time (see suggestions above), refrigerate & prepare the actual sauce as needed.


Variations: 
o   Morney or Cheese Sauce — Add from 2 T. to 3/4 cup of cheese to 1 cup prepared white sauce.  Cook at low heat until cheese is melted and well blended. High heat or overheating may cause cheese to become stringy. If cheese does become stringy, add a few drops of wine or lemon juice to return sauce to a creamier state. Add grated Parmesan or Romano cheese,  Italian seasonings, garlic,  and nutmeg to a white sauce (made with cream) to create Alfredo Sauce for pasta. 
o   Aurore or Tomato Sauce — Add 1 to 2 T. of tomato paste to the 1 cup prepared white sauce and then whisk in 2 T. soft butter at the end. 
o   Mustard Sauce — Add 2 to 4 T. Dijon or grainy mustard to 1 cup prepared white sauce.
o   Onion Sauce — Sauté sliced onions in a little stock and add to prepared white sauce.
o   Varying the cooking time of the roux, results in a change in flavor & taste:
1.  White roux (as outlined in chart on previous page) for a white sauce or Béchamel – cook fat and flour for 3 to 5 minutes.
2.  Blonde roux– cook roux for 6 to 7 minutes.
3.  Brown roux for Cajun & Creole sauces – cook roux for 8 to 15 min.
Note: The longer you cook a roux, the less it will thicken as heat breaks down the starch.
o  Varying the fat or liquid:  Olive oil or other vegetable oils, meat drippings, or margarine can be used in place of butter.  Substitute broth or stock for the milk and the mixture is now referred to as a Velouté Sauce.  Of course, half and half could also
be used in place of milk.

Cornstarch as a thickener.  Cornstarch has almost twice the thickening power of flour.  The resulting gluten-free sauce is glossy, and somewhat translucent in appearance; there’s never a floury taste. However, when using cornstarch remember that it must be added to a cold liquid to avoid lumping. Also avoid overheating cornstarch based sauces as they can break down.  For specific recipes go @ http://www.argostarch.com or refer to recipes on most boxes of cornstarch.

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