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Béchamel Sauce

This is a useful sauce for coating vegetables, particularly prior to browning in the oven or under the grill in gratin dishes.

ingredients

makes 300 ml (1/2 pint)
300 ml (1/2 pint) semi-skimmed milk
1 onion slice
6 peppercorns
1 mace blade
1 bay leaf
15 g(1/2 oz) butter
15 g (1/2 oz) plain flour
salt and pepper
freshly grated nutmeg

method

1. Pour the milk into a pan. Add the onion slice, peppercorns, mace and bay leaf. Bring almost to the boil, remove from the heat, cover and leave to infuse for about 20 minutes. Strain.

2. To make the roux, melt the butter in a pan, stir in the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute until cooked but not coloured.

3. Remove from the heat and gradually pour on the milk, whisking constantly. Season lightly with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

4. Return to the heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thickened and smooth. Simmer gently for 2 minutes.

variations
Simple white sauce: Omit the flavouring ingredients and infusing stage, simply stirring the cold milk into the roux.

Thick (binding) sauce: Increase the butter and flour to 25 g (1 oz) each.

Cheese (Mornay) sauce: Off the heat, stir 50 g (2 oz) finely grated Gruyere or mature Cheddar cheese and a large pinch of mustard powder or cayenne pepper into the finished sauce. Heat gently to melt the cheese if necessary.

Parsley sauce: Stir in 2 tbsp chopped parsley at stage 4.

Onion (Soubise) sauce: Saute 1 large onion, finely diced, in a little butter over a low heat for 10 - 15 minutes, until softened. Stir the sauteed onion into the sauce at stage 4.

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Also see categories;

Basic sauces

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