Bechamel Sauce & Derivatives
When it comes to developing your abilities in sauce making, Bechamel sauce tends to be a common and easy sauce for most beginners to get started in. It calls upon many of the basic skills that we outline in this site, including Stocks & Sauces, Roux, and Thickening Agents.
It is recommended that you review these posts to get an understanding of those basics.
What is a Bechamel Sauce?
A bechamel sauce is a Mother Sauce, which is where all sauces originate from. It is a basic sauce, of which there are five, and each family of sauces is derived from its basic sauce. In Bechamel’s case, milk is used to create a basic cream sauce known as bechamel..
Milk is the “stock” used to create a bechamel sauce, which is then used to create derivative sauces. Following this principle will help you have a firm understanding of all basic sauces.
The Bechamel sauce was named after Louis de Bechamel (1630-1703), and was a steward to Louis XIV of France. Bechamel sauce is definitely the easiest basic sauce to prepare. Traditionally it was made by adding heavy cream to a thick veloute sauce, but today the sauce is almost always made by thickening scaded milk (Infused with a onion pique (Studded onion) and thickening with a white roux and adding seasonings. Very popular with vegetable, egg, gratin, and pasta dishes.
Derivative sauces from bechamel are where the mother sauces takes on their true form. With a bechamel sauce, be mindful that the sauce is quite susceptible to being reduced past the point of recovery. If you are worried, you can always add a bit of milk back to the sauce to help loosen the sauce up.
Below you will find 9 bechamel derivative sauces that are cornerstone in classical French cooking. All recipes below are for 1L (1 qt.) of prepared bechamel. Please see our recipe below for the bechamel sauce recipe.
Anchovy Bechamel Sauce
This sauce is best served with fish. To create this sauce, add 28g (1 oz) of anchovy puree or paste to your bechamel sauce.
Bechamel Cheddar Sauce
A classic that is the basis of many cheese sauce products today, including Mac & Cheese, CheezWhiz, and Velveteen. Add 250g (4 oz) of grated cheese, a dash of tobasco sauce, and 15 mL (1 Tbsp) of dry mustard to your finished bechamel sauce.
Cream Sauce Bechamel
A very heavy and flavorful sauce used sparingly and in small quantities. Add 200-250 mL (8 to 12 fl oz) scalded cream and a few drops of lemon juice to your bechamel sauce.
aux Oeufs (Ecossaise) Bechamel
This delicious sauce is used in fresh pasta and can be used as a heavy salad dressing. Add 6 chopped hard-boiled eggs to your bechamel sauce.
Mornay sauce is a popular sauce in fine dining establishments and uses Gruyere and parmesan cheeses to complement pastas and meat dishes. Add 125g (4 oz) of grated Gruyere and 25g (1 oz) of grated parmesan cheese. Thin the sauce to the desired consistency with scalded cream. Remove and swirl in 60g (2 oz) of whole butter.
Mustard is a natural pair to dairy and this sauce makes for an excellent compliment for pork or lamb dishes. Add 15 g (2 Tbsp) of dry mustard or 30 g (1 oz) of Dijon or English mustard.
A popular seafood sauce that works wonderfully with lobster, crayfish or crab. Add 125 mL (4 fl oz) of heavy cream and 175 g (6 oz) of crayfish butter. Add paprika to achieve desired color and garnish the sauce with diced crayfish meat.
A great sauce that is visually contrasting and adds freshness to the bechamel. Add 30 g (1 oz) of chopped fresh parsley to your bechamel sauce
A soubise sauce is a popular muted onion sauce that works well with pastas and pork/lamb. Sweat 250 g (8 oz) of diced blanched onion in 25 g (1 oz) of butter. Add Bechamel sauce and 250 mL (8 fl oz) of cream and 5 g (1 tsp) of sugar and simmer until onions are fulled cooked. Strain out the onions when finished.
Basic Sauce Difficulty
(Lower is easier)
Yield: 1 L (1 qt)
Prep time: 10 min.
Cook time: 30 min.
|Ingredient||Weight (Metric)||Weight (Imperial)|
|Onion Pique (Studded with clove and bay leaf)||37.5 g||1.5 oz|
|Milk||1 L||1 qt.|
|Flour||62.5 g||2 oz|
|Butter||62.5 g||2 oz|
|Salt, White Pepper, nutmeg||To Taste||To Taste|
- Add the onion pique to the milk in a heavy saucepan and scald/simmer for 20 minutes on very low heat to infuse the flavors. Keep in mind, the 20 minutes begin once the milk has reached simmering temperature. If you wish to speed this along, you can dice the onion and throw in the clove and bay leaf. If you don’t have a proper conical strainer, this method will be difficult.
- In a separate stainless steel pot we want to create our white roux by mising the flour and butter together and looking it slightly just to remove excess starchy flavouring. Cool the roux to room temperature.
- Remove the onion pique from the milk and gradually add the hot milk into the roux while stirring constantly with a whisk to prevent lumps. Once the roux begins to combine with the milk you can add the remaining liquid faster. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce the sauce to a simmer, and add the seasonings and continue to cook for 20-30 minutes.
- Be sure not to burn the sauce on the bottom by whisking consistently. Once completed, strain through a strainer. Melted butter can be ladled over the the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Cool in a water bath.
Bechamel sauce requires a careful adherence to the techniques which makes it an excellent choice for new cooks to practice on. If not followed, there is a tendency to have the consequences show up right as you’re making it. As with most things in life, the recipe is easy but your success is entirely based in execution.