01 Aug, 2014
If there are two extremely vital sauces which every fine cook should know they would be gravy and nacho cheese.
But wait ! you may say. I want to cook at a nice restaurant not Mommas Pie House. Nothing against Momma s that is just hellip you know. Gravy??
Well here s the beautiful thing about those two sauces: they re both based on chamel one of the four classic sauces. Where s it from? France of course and it was named after a steward for Louis XIV. Can t get any fancier than that.
It s surprising really how many common things we associate with junk food or ball park eats or what-have-you and truth be told those exact things have very austere origins.
Bechamel is a beautiful sauce in its simplicity and white gravy is almost exactly the same. Milk butter flour. Add some black pepper maybe some sausage you ve got a great biscuit topping. Add some saute; ed shallots instead a bit of white wine and maybe some truffle oil? Same sauce sure ndash but now with a totally different flavor profile.
Now take that bechamel add some cheese and you ve got a mornay (this week s episode). If you use cheddar maybe a bit of American cheese some canned tomatoes and jalapenos you ve got a damn good nacho cheese sauce. But what if you instead use some gruyere instead? Pour it over a toasted baguette with some thin sliced quick seared ham? Well now you ve got a croque monsieur one of the best sandwiches in the world. A sandwich that s a tad bit fancier than say nachos. Or if you use some blue cheese and pour it over a chateaubriand? Top that. I dare you.
So if there s one thing to take away from all this learn the bé chamel ndash it s like a Swiss-army knife tons of uses both fancy and homey.
1Qt HEAVY CREAM
1 DICED SHALLOT (OPTIONAL)
Melt butter in a sauce pot when melted the flour is added. The mixture is stirred until the flour is incorporated and then cooked until at least the point where a raw flour taste is no longer apparent about 2 minutes. Slowly add the cream stirring constantly to a smooth consistency. Simmer about 5-8 minutes. If sauce gets to thick just thin to desired consistency by adding more cream.
If using the shallots add in with the butter and cook about 1 minute.
Remember this sauce is a base for many other sauces.