bechamel is a classic white sauce
photo by carmen troesser

Bechamel is the classic white sauce every cook should know how to make. Creamy, silky, rich and perfect, it is the sacred ground upon which all beautiful cheese sauces are built. But a basic bechamel is nothing more than flour gravy, which is hard to get especially excited about. So let’s play. You can add two chopped anchovy fillets in oil to the butter and cook until they dissolve before adding the flour. Infuse the milk with nutmeg, cloves, citrus peel or maybe fresh basil, oregano, tarragon, chives or rosemary. Add lemon zest and grated Parmesan cheese; minced garlic or shallot. Experiment with different cheeses; add pureed, sauteed onions, a teaspoon of Worcestershire, or prepared mustard to the sauce. In any form, this white sauce wants to be on pasta or a baked potato – oh yes, it does.


2½ cups whole milk
4 Tbsp. butter
4 Tbsp. flour


• In a small sauce pan over medium-low heat, warm the milk, being careful not to scald it. 

• Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium heat, melt the butter then stir in the flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until it becomes a paste but does not brown, about 2 minutes. Slowly pour in the warmed milk and continue to stir until the sauce thickens, about 3 minutes. 

Tags : French