Béchamel is known as one of the “mother” sauces in classic French cuisine, it is used in dishes such as lasagne, macaroni cheese or moussaka, it can also be used as the base for soufflés, soups, and savoury pie fillings. Add Gruyere or Emmenthal and Parmesan cheese, and you’ve got Mornay Sauce. The list goes on and on.
You need this:
400ml full fat milk
1 Bay leaf
6 black peppercorns
¼ peeled shallot or small onion
30g butter, cubed
20g plain flour
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to season
A jug that will hold at least 500ml with a strainer
You do this:
Put the milk, bay leaf, pepper, cloves and onion in the saucepan and heat the milk to just under boiling (this will take a few minutes). Remove the saucepan from the heat and strain the infused milk into the jug.
Next, wash the saucepan and put it back on a medium heat, add the butter and melt it (don’t brown or burn it) and gently whisk in the flour. Still over the medium heat, little by little, add and whisk in all the hot milk as it simmers – cooking at too high a temperature will burn the sauce. Then, turn the heat down to the lowest setting and simmer the sauce, stirring occasionally to get a smooth creamy sauce and then season to taste.
TIP: A lot of Béchamel recipes tell you to stud an onion with cloves, warm the milk and infuse it for some time, I reckon this is an easier way and gives just as much flavour.