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Making Be'chamel sauce

Béchamel sauce, sometimes known as cream gravy, is one of the 5 mother sauces, which means that you can use this sauce as a basis to make many other sauces.

First you make a roux. You may recall how to make a roux from our last post. Do that, then ...

Add 1 cup of whole milk. Whisk constantly until the milk is incorporated, NO LUMPS. Bring to a boil. Add 1/8 tsp. white pepper and 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg. Add up to an additional cup of milk. It should be a rich gravy consistency. Congratulations! You have just made a Béchamel sauce.

Serving tips:

1. Substitute chicken stock for the second cup of milk and black pepper for the white pepper. Serve over country fried steak or fried pork chops for white country gravy.

2. Add 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Stir until melted. Add 1/2 lb. crabmeat and 1/2 lb. cooked shrimp. Pour into a casserole dish. Top with 2 oz. shredded cheddar cheese and 2 oz. breadcrumbs. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 15-20 minutes for seafood au gratin.

3. Add 1/2 tbsp. onion powder, 1/2 tsp. garlic powder and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, fold in 1/2 lb. cooked macaroni noodles. Top with 2 oz. shredded cheddar and 2 oz. breadcrumbs. Pour into casserole dish and bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes for the best mac and cheese you've ever tasted.

4. Add 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese and 1/4 cup chopped parsley. Stir until melted. Now you've made an Alfredo sauce. Serve over cooked chicken or noodles.

5. Brown 1 lb. of bulk sausage. Use the grease to make your roux. Use black pepper instead of white pepper. Follow the directions for making the basic Béchamel sauce. Add the cooked sausage at the end. Serve over biscuits for country biscuits and gravy.