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Béchamel Sauce

Béchamel Sauce
This classic sauce, sometimes simply called white sauce, adds a rich and creamy quality to a variety of vegetable dishes. It can be spooned over hot cooked vegetables just before serving or mixed with them to make an easy yet elegant creamed vegetable course. To turn the creamed vegetables into a gratin, place in a baking dish, top with cheese and then bake in the oven until golden.

To create a cheese sauce, whisk 1/2 cup grated Gruyère, Parmigiano-Reggiano or other cheese into the finished béchamel sauce. If a lighter sauce is desired, substitute chicken stock for part of the milk.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. unsalted butter
  • 3 Tbs. all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups milk, heated, or 1 cup each milk and
      chicken stock, heated
  • Salt and freshly ground white pepper, to taste

Directions:

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring, until blended, 1 minute. Add the paprika and bay leaf.

Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Reduce the heat to low and continue to whisk until the sauce is smooth and slightly thickened, 4 to 5 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper.

Increase the heat to medium and simmer to blend the flavors, 2 to 3 minutes. Discard the bay leaf before using.
Makes about 2 cups.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchen Library Series, Vegetables, by Emalee Chapman (Time-Life Books, 1993).