The Language Of Food: Bechamel Sauce
I think that if more recipes had non-French names, more men would be apt to cook them. Problem with terms like Bechamel or Beurre-Blanc or Veloute is that they are scary. These terms originated in hoity French kitchens and that scares the crap out of us. We get this mental image of a sterile stainless steel kitchen overseen by snooty chefs in beautiful white aprons and hats. We think, "I don't have a white hat. And I'm not a French chef. I live in Alabama."
But dammit, it doesn't have to be that way.
Bechamel sauce is one of the easiest and most versatile things you will EVER make on your stove top. You don't need a five-star Parisienne kitchen and a white coat to whip up a Bechamel. You need a saucepan and a whisk. That's it. Hell, you could probably do it with a spoon.
Bechamel Sauce is a basic white sauce consisting of butter, flour, and milk at its very core. So many other sauces can be made from this base, such as sawmill gravy, alfredo sauce, and cheese sauce. Because of it's versatile nature, Bechamel is categorized as one of the four "mother" sauces.
The process of Bechamel preparation is simple. Putting together a Bechamel starts with a roux, which we have covered before here on The Language of Food. Traditional Bechamel usually includes a grating of nutmeg and sometimes onion, but I like to stick with the plain, basic white sauce and let whatever the final sauce be dictate what flavors I add.
In a saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat, add the flour and whisk until a smooth paste forms. Don't cook long, only about a minute. This is your roux.
Add your hot milk, and whisk to combine. Continue cooking until sauce thickens. Add salt.
Check out Wikipedia for more information.