How to Make Four Creamy Classic Sauces
1. Béchamel Sauce
2 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
1 ½ cups milk*
Heat butter in a heavy saucepan over medium heat.
Add flour and whisk until smooth. Cook 3 minutes to remove floury taste.
Add 1/2 cup milk, whisking vigorously until thickened. Add remaining milk, whisking well until smooth. Cook 5 minutes until sauce is bubbly and thickened. Season with salt and pepper.
*While any kind of milk can be used, the higher the milk fat content, the richer the sauce. My standard is 2% reduced-fat milk.
2. Mornay Sauce
This classic sauce is used in scalloped potatoes, over vegetables and in the Hot Brown sandwich. When sauce is thickened, add 1/2 cup grated Gruyere cheese and 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano to pan. With a spoon, stir just until melted.
3. Veloute Sauce
A basic sauce used as a springboard for many other sauces, veloute frequently forms the base of soups. Using chicken or vegetable stock in place of milk, proceed as directed in béchamel sauce.
Use a slurry to thicken soups, chili and stews when you want to avoid the fat in a traditional béchamel. It works great when you just need to thicken something and not necessarily form the base of a dish. Combine cold milk and flour. The ratio needn’t be precise, but 2 tablespoons flour to 1/2 cup cold milk typically thickens a pot of soup. Cold milk and flour tend to lump, so stir thoroughly to ensure all the flour is dissolved in the milk.
Mexican-Inspired Chicken Casserole
The white sauce binds the corn tortillas, chicken and cheese into a creamy casserole everyone will love.
5 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 1/4 cups 2% reduced-fat milk
3 cups shredded cooked chicken
3 roma tomatoes, chopped
4 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
8 ounces Mexican melting cheese (whole-milk mozzarella) or Monterey Jack, grated
6 to 8 corn tortillas
Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Melt butter in medium saucepan. Add flour, cumin, salt and pepper. Whisk well until smooth. Cook 2 minutes.
- Gradually add milk, whisking constantly until smooth. Cook until thickened, about 3 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, combine chicken, tomatoes, green onions and cilantro.
- Place a small amount of white sauce in bottom of 2-quart casserole or souffle dish. Place approximately two corn tortillas in dish, tearing into pieces to fit corners, to form a layer. Top with some sauce, half the chicken mixture and one-third the grated cheese.
- Repeat one more layer, ending with tortillas, white sauce and cheese. Cover and bake 30 minutes.
- Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer or until browned and bubbly.
Serves 8, serving size 1 1⁄3 cup
Total fat: 17g; Sat. fat: 10g
Chol.: 75mg; Sodium: 363mg
Carb.: 18g; Fiber: 2g; Sugars: 5g
Protein 21g; Potassium 328mg; Phosphorous 314mg
Creamy Seafood Lasagna
Perfect for entertaining!
4 tablespoons butter, divided
2 shallots, diced
2 ounces country ham, diced
1 pound bay scallops or small shrimp
8 ounces mushrooms, sliced
1/4 cup white wine
2 cups whole milk
1 small onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2⁄3 cup heavy cream or half-and-half
14-ounce can diced tomatoes, drained
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
12 ounces white fish such as tilapia, grouper or flounder
12 lasagna noodles, cooked al dente
4 ounces gruyere cheese, grated
2 ounces grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
- Melt 2 tablespoons butter in skillet, add shallots and ham, and sauté 5 minutes.
- Add scallops and mushrooms; cook 5 minutes.
- Add wine; cook 10 minutes.
- Place milk in saucepan. Add onion, bay leaf and peppercorns. Simmer 10 minutes. Let stand. Strain.
- Melt remaining butter in saucepan. Add flour, whisking well; cook 3 minutes.
- Add strained milk mixture; cook until thickened, about 10 minutes.
- Add cream, tomatoes and parsley.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Spread some sauce in bottom of lasagna pan. Place 4 noodles on top. Top with all of fish filets to cover most of noodles. Top with half the remaining sauce. Top with 4 noodles, scallop mixture and half the gruyere cheese. Top with remaining noodles, remaining white sauce, remaining gruyere and Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes or until bubbly.
- Uncover and bake 10 minutes longer or until top is golden. Serve with a pile of arugula greens.
Serves 9, serving size 1 cup
Total fat 22g; Sat. fat 13g
Chol. 101mg; Sodium 625mg
Carb. 39g; Fiber 3g; Sugars 5g
Protein 32g; Potassium 561mg; Phosphorous 515mg