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How To Make a Basic White Sauce

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Basic White Sauce (Bechamel)

Basic White Sauce

Philippe Desnerck/Photolibrary/Getty

White sauce, also known as Béchamel, is used in a variety of dishes and is the base for many sauces. Here are the steps for a basic medium white sauce, with adjustments for other thicknesses.

Difficulty: Easy

Time Required: 15 minutes

Here's How:

  1. In a small, heavy saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of butter over low heat.
  2. Blend 2 tablespoons of flour into the melted butter.
  3. Add 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
  4. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 4 to 5 minutes. Cooking for this length of time will minimize 'flour' taste.
  5. Slowly add 1 cup of milk, stirring constantly.
  6. Continue cooking slowly until smooth and thickened.
  7. For thin white sauce, follow the instructions above, but use 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of flour. Thin white sauce is used in cream soups.
  8. For thick white sauce, follow the instructions above, but use 3 tablespoons of butter and 3 tablespoons of flour. Thick white sauce is used in soufflés.
  9. For heavy white sauce, follow the instructions above, but use 4 tablespoons of butter and 4 tablespoons of flour. Heavy white sauce is used as a binder for croquettes.

Tips:

  1. To make the standard Béchamel, after adding the milk to the medium white sauce recipe add 1 small onion studded with 3 cloves, a bay leaf, and a grating of nutmeg.
  2. Light stock, cream, or a combination may be used in place of the milk.
  3. Add more flavor by seasoning with celery salt, nutmeg, a teaspoon of lemon juice, onion juice, or sherry, or a few tablespoons of chopped chives or parsley .

What You Need:

  • Heavy saucepan
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
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