We’ve already covered how to make roux and basic white sauce. If you want to give a big lift to the flavour, then béchamel sauce is the way to go. Béchamel sauce has many uses – it’s wonderful in lasagne, for example.
- 300 ml/½ pint of milk
- a few slices of onion
- a sprig of thyme
- a bit of parsley
- a few peppercorns
- 50g/1½ oz roux (or enough to make the desired thickness)
- a pinch or two of ground nutmeg (I use a little nutmeg grinder to get freshly ground nutmeg – you can see it in the bottom-right of the photo.)
- salt and freshly ground pepper to season
(Some people also include a few slices of carrot, but I don’t)
Put the cold milk in a saucepan with the onions, peppercorns, thyme and parsley. (And the carrot if you’re using it.)
Bring to the boil and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and let it stand for about 10 minutes. This is to infuse the milk with the flavours.
Now make your roux if you haven’t already got some ready and waiting in the fridge.
Strain out the vegetables, herbs, etc and return the milk to the pan. Bring to the boil and whisk in as much roux as you need to thicken it.
Season with salt and pepper, and with nutmeg if you’re using it. Taste, and adjust seasoning if necessary. (It’s easy to add more but pretty much impossible to remove anything, so go easy.)
There you go – quick and easy béchamel.
You can use either béchamel or basic white sauce as the basis for lots of other sauces – parsley, cheese, etc.