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Béchamel/Bechamel Sauce (flavoured white sauce) Recipe
The basic French white sauce, which is used as the base for many other sauces, such as cheese, mushroom, parsley and shrimp - plus many others.
The subtle addition of flavourings lifts it incomparably over the basic 'British' white sauce - simply made with flour, butter, milk plus salt and pepper.
For about 1 pint/560ml (but quantities could be halved):
1 pint/560ml Milk (full fat produces the best results)
2 Bay Leaves
10 Black Peppercorns, left whole
a few generous grates of fresh Nutmeg
1 blade of Mace (optional, but more important if the sauce is to be used as a stand alone item
2 oz/60gr Butter
1 oz/30ml Plain Flour
½ teaspoon/2ml Salt and perhaps a little more pepper.
1.Put the milk with the bay leaves, peppercorns, nutmeg and mace (if using) in a saucepan over a low heat.
2.Gently heat the milk mixture for about 10 minutes, in a medium-sized saucepan, but don't allow it to boil.
3.Strain the milk into a bowl, and allow to cool a little while you continue.
4.Gently melt the butter in the saucepan, then remove it from the heat and stir in the flour.
5.Mix the two together, until there are no lumps, then add the milk, little by little, stirring with a wooden spoon as you go.
6.Return the pan to the heat, and stirring continuously, bring the mixture to the boil - the lower the heat, and cook, very gently, for about 10 minutes.
7. Check the seasoning - you will need the salt, perhaps even a little more, and maybe a little more freshly-ground pepper.
If not using immediately, cover with a butter paper or cling wrap. The sauce can be refrigerated when cold, and then very gently reheated - stirring all the time.