Béchamel

Ingredients

  • Strong pale Veal gravy (flavoured with mushrooms or not), 1 pint: reduced half.
  • rich cream, 1 pint
  • flour, 1 tablespoonful: 5 minutes. With gravy, 4 or 5 minutes.

Method

This is a fine French white sauce, now very much served at good English tables. It may be made in various ways, and more or less expensively; but it should always be thick, smooth, and rich, though delicate in flavour. The most ready mode of preparing it is to take an equal portion of very strong, pale veal gravy, and of good cream (a pint of each for example), and then, by rapid boiling over a very clear fire, to reduce the gravy nearly half; next, to mix with part of the cream a tablespoonful of fine dry flour, to pour it to the remainder, when it boils, and to keep the whole stirred for five minutes or more over a slow fire, for if placed upon a fierce one it would be liable to burn; then to add the gravy, to stir and mix the sauce perfectly, and to simmer it for a few minutes longer. All the flavour should be given by the gravy, in which French cooks boil a handful of mushrooms, a few green onions, and some branches of parsley before it is reduced: but a good béchamel may be made without them, with a strong consommé (see pale veal gravy) well reduced.

Obs.—Velouté, which is a rather thinner sauce or gravy, is made by simply well reducing the cream and stock separately, and then mixing them together without any thickening.

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