The white sauce is one of the leading sauces and the base for many others. It is made with milk and a white roux. The milk may be flavored with bay leaf, onion, nutmeg and other spices.
- Heat a heavy bottom pan over a moderate heat. Melt butter.
- Add flour, stirring until it is thoroughly mixed with the butter, and cook slightly to make a white roux. Just cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequenly, to take the raw taste from the flour.
- Gradually, add warm millk, beating constantly, until all milk is incorporated. Bring the sauce to a boil, add bay leaf if using, and season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently.
- Keep warm to use in a short time or cool the sauce and store for later.
To scald the milk, heat it in a pan just to the boiling point and turn off the heat.
Other flavorings can be added to the white sauce at the same time than the bay leaf and seasoning. Try ground nutmeg, a whole clove, or a small onion, peeled and whole. Be aware that the spices should not be the dominant flavor.
For a <strong>béchamel sauce</strong>, place the milk in a pan, adding 1 small onion, peeled and dice small, 1 small carrot, peeled and diced small, a rib of celery, washed and sliced, 1 bay leaf, nutmeg, and other spices. Bring to the boiling point, remove from heat, cover and let it stand for 30 minutes. Strain and use this flavored milk to make the white sauce.
For a quick béchamel, just flavor the milk on the go by adding one or more of bay leaf, clove, and nutmeg to the liquid when it starts simmering. Strain the sauce once finished to remove bay leaf and other spices.
If the sauce becomes too thick, add more hot milk.
Keep the white sauce warm over a hot water bath, or cool in a cold water bath if you are going to use it later.
If you are going to use the sauce later and do not want a skin, spread melted butter over the surface; alternatively cover the surface with greased paper or film.