Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel Sauce


3 people made this

About this recipe: This classic French white sauce is used in a wide variety of dishes. Many flavouring ingredients can be added to make a number of different sauces.

Norma MacMillan

Serves: 4 

  • 600 ml semi-skimmed milk
  • 1 onion or 2 onions, halved
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • pinch of grated nutmeg
  • 55 g butter
  • 55 g plain flour
  • salt and pepper

Prep:15min  ›  Cook:5min  ›  Ready in:20min 

  1. Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan and add the onion or shallots, bay leaf, peppercorns and nutmeg. Bring just to the boil over a moderate heat, then remove from the heat, cover and set aside to infuse for 10 minutes. Strain the flavoured milk into a jug.
  2. Melt the butter in the rinsed-out pan. Stir in the flour and cook gently, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute. Do not allow the flour to brown.
  3. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually pour in the milk, stirring or whisking constantly. Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil, still stirring or whisking.
  4. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce gently for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until it is smooth and thick.
  5. Taste and add salt and pepper. Serve or use immediately.

Some more ideas

For a cheese sauce, stir in 55 g (2 oz) grated mature Cheddar, Gruyre or Parmesan cheese and 1 tsp Dijon mustard just before serving. * For an onion sauce, do not add the onion or shallots when infusing the milk. Finely chop 2 onions and cook in the butter over a low heat for 10 minutes or until softened but not browned, then stir in the flour. Pure the finished sauce in a blender or food processor if a smooth result is required. * For a mushroom sauce, slice 300 g (10 1/2 oz) button mushrooms and cook in the butter for 5 minutes before stirring in the flour. * A one-stage bchamel sauce is quick, and it can be a good way of making a lower-fat sauce as the butter can be reduced or omitted. Pour the milk into a heavy-based saucepan and gradually whisk in the flour, sprinkling it lightly over the milk as you whisk. Slice the onion or shallots and add with all the remaining ingredients, including the butter, if using. Whisk the sauce over a moderate heat until it comes to the boil and thickens, then reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Strain the sauce, or use a draining spoon to remove the flavouring ingredients, and add seasoning to taste. * For a cornflour-thickened béchamel, omit the butter and flour, and mix 4 tbsp cornflour to a smooth paste with a little of the milk. Infuse the remaining milk as above. Strain and heat to boiling point, then pour a little into the cornflour mixture, stirring. Return this to the milk in the saucepan. Bring to the boil, stirring until the sauce thickens, and simmer for 2 minutes.

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