The Special Method That Will Change Your Béchamel Forever

Béchamel is considered the mother of sauces in French cuisine, which typically has a white and creamy consistency that's packed with flavor. It traditionally pairs well with roast chicken and different types of pasta, but can also be added to casseroles or even a soufflé. Our Tasting Table recipe developer Susan Olayinka said it's the perfect addition for many different meals. "Try it on top of grilled chicken, fish, or veggies," she suggested. "It would also be delicious on a savory crepe or as a dipping sauce for breadsticks. Lasagna, mac and cheese, and quiche would all be great with this sauce as well."

Traditionally béchamel is made with just three ingredients that include flour, butter, and milk. However, Olayinka uses a special technique that gives her sauce extra flavor. She adds an onion pique to her recipe, which sounds difficult, but is actually very simple to do. "It makes the dish feel much more gourmet than it actually is," she explained. "Also it adds great flavor without being overwhelming." All you have to do is slice the onion in half, remove the layers from the piece you'll be using, and then pierce the bay leaf into the onion.

How to make this flavorful béchamel sauce

To create your sauce based on Olayinka's recipe, you'll need to melt your butter over low heat in a saucepan and whisk in the flour. Stir for two minutes before adding in your milk and whisk consistently until there are no lumps and the sauce is starting to thicken. "If you want a thinner sauce, simply add more milk," she recommended. "For a thicker sauce, cook it for a few minutes longer. Be sure to whisk constantly so that the sauce doesn't stick."

When the texture of your béchamel appears smooth, place your onion pique into the pan and let it simmer for 10 minutes. Then make sure to remove the onion before adding your savory sauce to any dish you like. Olayinka also suggested adding different ingredients to the mixture to customize it to your preferences, saying, "Try adding different herbs or spices to the sauce." She also suggested, "You could also add in some shredded cheese, diced cooked bacon, or sautéed mushrooms. Get creative and make it your own!"