We realized with horror recently that some of you are missing out on some of earth's most delicious stuff because certain foods and techniques seem kind of scary. "Don't Be Scared, It's Just _____!" is our new series tackling the foods you will be glad you gave a shot. Quit hiding and let's get cooking!
We can already see you tensing up. French food makes you nervous. Even worse? French sauces. With French names. Béchamel sauce -- just reading the name might make you want to skip this article. But don't. Take a deep breath, we're going to sort this out together. Here is a dirty little secret about Béchamel sauce: it only has three ingredients! How hard can it be to make something with only three ingredients? This simple, basic sauce is one of the five mother sauces (if you can list all five, your chef friends will be impressed), and is probably the simplest and most versatile one.
First, watch this CRAZY SIMPLE béchamel sauce video tutorial. Then, we'll talk about why béchamel is such a great tool to have in your roster of kitchen tricks.
SO simple, right? Lots of recipes will tell you to gently warm your milk before you add it to the roux. You CAN, it will make your sauce creamier, but you don't HAVE to if you don't want to dirty another pot. We also rarely utilize the egg yolk trick, because usually when we make Béchamel, it is only because we are about to add cheese to it. Which brings us to the reasons why not being afraid of Béchamel will really improve your life:
You add Parmesan and Gruyere to your Béchamel and you've got a classic Mornay sauce. Add cheddar to it, instant cheese fries. Toss in some cooked pasta and the cheese of your choice, creamy stovetop mac and cheese. A quick Béchamel is a perfect start to a Velveeta-free chile con queso.
Cream of _______ Soups
Cream of mushroom, cream of potato, spinach, celery, chicken -- once you've got Béchamel under your belt, you'll never buy a can of condensed soup again.
Now, don't turn your noses up. We know that you guys, like us, probably secretly crave green bean casserole come Thanksgiving-time. There are definitely a few of you who love hotdish and cheesy rice and broccoli casseroles -- here is the thing, the more ingredients you make yourself, the better these things taste. And your homemade Béchamel is going to make your homemade cream of whatever soup taste amazing, and everyone knows cream of whatever soup is the secret ingredient to a great casserole.
There are those who believe that the best lasagna is made not with ample ricotta and mozzarella, but with delicate layers of Béchamel. Are they right? You'll never know until you start making Béchamel.