There are two schools of thought about how to make a white, or Bechamel sauce, in my family:
- make a roux and add milk to make the sauce (method below)
- add a cornflour paste to boiling milk to thicken it to a sauce
Both work just fine, but I go with the traditional method.
This recipe was taken from the BBC Food website (purely to have the instructions written down!), and Delia has a few other bits of info to add – so worth taking a look. She also flavours her milk before using it in the sauce – I often do this too, but use vege peelings, bay leaf, a bit of onion, or whatever I have lying around. It really makes the milk, and the sauce, taste lovely.
20g plain flour
salt and freshly milled black pepper
- Begin by melting the butter gently – don’t over-heat it or let it brown, as this will affect the colour and flavour of the sauce. As soon as the butter melts, add the flour and, over a medium heat and using a small pointed wooden spoon, stir quite vigorously to make a smooth, glossy paste – a roux.
- Now begin adding the infused milk a little at a time – about 25ml first of all and stir again vigorously. Then, when this milk is incorporated, add the next amount and continue incorporating each bit of liquid before you add the next. When about half the milk is in, switch to a balloon whisk* and start adding large amounts of milk, but always whisking briskly. Your reward will be a smooth, glossy, creamy sauce.
- Now turn the heat down to its lowest setting and let the sauce cook for 5 minutes, whisking from time to time. While that’s happening, taste and season with salt and freshly milled black pepper.
* Remember to use a silicon-covered whisk if you are using a non-stick milk pan!