The other mother sauces beside Béchamel sauce include Velouté sauce, Hollandaise sauce, Tomato sauce, and Espagnole sauce.
Clearly, some popular derivative sauces, like mayonnaise, have taken on household must-have status. Others, such as Béarnaise (steak sauce) are a bit more of a specialty and a bit less known outside of French gastronomy.
As you may already know, our MO is to tackle mainly easy French recipes. I think the core Bechamel sauce is definitely very do-able even though it's one of those items that practically epitomize Haute Cuisine.
I usually tend to lean towards leaving intricate specialties to the pros and focusing on the hard work of dégustation. (Dégustation means tasting or sampling enjoyment, in a gastronomical sort of way; Unfortunately, there is no English equivalent for this word). At any rate, backbreaking labor, isn't it? As they say, it's a dirty job but someone's got to do it (and that someone may as well be me)!
Keep in mind that the more intricate recipes take years of practice even for bonafide chefs in order to consistently deliver a top-notch creation. Here, we're taking a dab at Bechamel sauce only to complement our easy Croque-Madame or Croque-Monsieur recipes. So, if you're up for it, here it goes.
Ingredients for 4:
30 g butter
Preparation time: 5 min
Total time: 15 minutes
Melt butter over low heat in a saucepan. Add the flour and stir to blend the two ingredients.
You can add a few drops of oil to avoid burning.
After a few minutes, stop the fire when the preparation (called roux) reaches a nice golden color (Do not wait until the mixture is scorched). Then, let it cool.
In the meantime, bring the milk to a boil in a saucepan. Pour the milk into the cooled preparation in a steady stream while stirring vigorously with a whisk to prevent lumps.
After the milk is all poured in, put the pan on low heat. Continue stirring constantly until the desired consistency. In general, you're waiting for the sauce to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
Once you get the right consistency, the last thing is to add seasoning to your Béchamel sauce. Add salt, pepper, and especially a few pinches of nutmeg, which gives the sauce its character and originality. (Some people like to add onions for flavoring as well).
And that's it! Told you it wouldn't be that hard! Now that you have mastered it, your Croque-Monsieur and Croque-Madame are stepping up into professional grade! But also, this is a staple white sauce that can be used as your base for others (Mornay sauce -a variation on Béchamel sauce-, cheese sauce, mushroom sauce, etc.)
Also, feel free to check out the video below if that helps. And, ss Jacques Pépin would say, Happy Cooking!
From Bechamel Sauce back to Croque Monsieur, Croque Madame Recipes
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