The Road To Souffle: Part 1

So I was thinking about what I could show that encompassed several classical techniques, and I went “Eureka! Souffle!” Every souffle, whether it is sweet or savory, is based on a classic cream sauce and whipped egg whites + egg yolks.  So, I decided to do a cheese souffle since I was thinking about doing a crash course in sauces anyway.  This is more fun.

This first post will outline making a bechamel sauce, or a classic white sauce.  I’ll get back to the actual souffle part of it on Thursday.  Tomorrow will be about whipping egg whites into a frenzy.  Bechamel sauce is one of the Mother sauces of classic French cuisine, along with Veloute, Hollandaise, Tomato Sauce, and Espagnole.  I’ll wager that you’ve made it before without realizing it, or at the very least eaten a billion things with it in there.  Lasagna, casserole style Mac & Cheese (capitalized on purpose, out of respect.  I luv u, M&C), Mornay sauce, Croque Monsieur, and some pot pie recipes all use bechamel.  The very traditional way of making it, as I will detail here, is to create a white roux and then whisk in whole milk.   If you’re from anywhere near Louisiana in proximity, you know that a roux is fat and flour combined in equal parts and cooked to differing levels of color. (Editor:  The Lady Chef forgot to say this is because roux is the base of gumbo.  Derp.)   You can go anywhere from a white roux to a blonde, brown, chocolate, or black roux, and there are lots of stops in between.  As you cook a roux, the flavor and aroma get increasingly nuttier.   When I’m making bechamel, I want to do a white roux.  It’s never like, pure white as the driven snow, but more of a yellowish color from the butter.  (If you’re using butter, which I usually do for bechamel.)  Oh yeah – if you want to make a darker roux for anything, best to use vegetable or canola oil, because it has a higher smoke point and is less likely to burn than a butter based roux!   So yeah, you make the white roux, and then stir in some warm milk, a little at a time.  Based on how thick you want the sauce, you can add more or less milk.   For the recipe today, I didn’t add too much because I wanted it to be a bit on the thick side.   If you are using it for an actual sauce, you might want to thin it out a bit more.  Really, depending on how much roux you make, the amount of milk will vary.  I tend to just add as much as I want until I get the right feel from the sauce, and it lets me know I’m done.  I like to pretend that I have a connection on a cosmic level with whatever I am cooking.  It helps me feel in control.   Kidding.   Who’s ready for a slideshow?

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