I was sure I had already blogged my béchamel but I could not find it.
It is a really versatile sauce:
Basic recipe – adjust amounts to suit the purpose:
Scald (bring ALMOST to the boil ) 300mls milk with a slice of onion, a few cracked peppercorns, a hefty pinch of mustard powder, 1 or 2 bay leaves and a twist of mace (if you can find it – I have been searching for mace for ages!) You can substitute nutmeg but it is not quite the same. Nutmeg should be added at the end of the cooking process.
Leave to cool and allow the flavours to infuse for at least an hour. Sieve out the onion, bay and peppercorns.
Heat 50 g of butter in a pan and cook a tablespoon of flour (Basic sauce. Thick sauce > More flour and vice versa).
Remove from the heat.
Make a roux, adding the cooled milk and whisking it smooth before returning to the heat stirring constantly until the sauce thickens. Add a few twists of nutmeg.
Here is where the variations start. A thick sauce may be thinned by adding milk, cream, stock, or :
Grated cheese (Gruyere, Swiss, Stilton, Romano, Parmesan or whatever, depending on the purpose of the sauce)
and/or Cream or beaten egg yolk
and/or curry powder
for mornays, smoked fish kedgeree, welsh rarebit, lasagne, smoked herring on toast, cauliflower cheese, Broccoli
Lots of chopped parsley for kedgeree and anything else that would benefit from a parsley sauce.
Hint – If making kedgeree, cook the fish in the milk.
Add fish stock, cream, fish and shellfish – thin for chowder or thick for fish pie
Thick sauce plus cream, sugar, food colouring and vanilla essence or cocoa: Blancmange. (You might want to omit the onion and pepper and mustard at the start – but not the Bay)
And so on.
The possibilities are endless.
Consider the humble smoked oyster vol au vent
I added the juice from two cans of oysters to the milk. Made a thick roux then diluted it with cream and added the smoked oysters. Left to chill overnight or at least a few hours in the ‘fridge, it sets to a thick blancmange and allows the oyster flavour to develop.
Preheat the oven to 160C
Spoon an oyster and some sauce into each vol au vent case and heat for 15mins. Serve.