Monday, April 6, 2015

Begin with butter ... and a lot of love

When you're busy, starving or just don't want to go out to dinner... try going back to basics with a simple and classic white sauce known as béchamel. My Mother used to make this sauce and place sliced leftover roasted chicken on toasted bread and pour the white sauce on top. Served with a salad or roasted carrots. Tonight I deviated the recipe and used fat free milk. Gasp! I know, I know, but I've got to cut down on some of the fat somewhere.
What is a béchamel? Is a simple sauce of milk, butter and flour. In a sauce pan melt butter and slowly add flour. Stir until combined and the taste of raw flour is cooked away. Pour in slowly room temperature milk and stir constantly until combined with a wooden spoon or a wire whisk. If the milk is at room temperature the mixture combines easily and prevents lumps. Sprinkle with salt, freshly cracked black pepper. But, wait you don't have to stop there. I added garlic powder, dried basil and a few red pepper flakes, just to spice things up. I also sautéd thinly sliced onions in butter and olive oil and added them. A classic béchamel sauce has simply salt, freshly ground or cracked pepper...either white or black with freshly ground nutmeg. NUTMEG? Oddly, enough the warmth of the nutmeg combined with butter, flour and milk is delicious! For my final touch I added fresh broccoli florets. The florets will cook while the sauce simmers and thickens. Broccoli florets? Yep, cut a section of the broccoli flower off. Then cut a smaller section and cut each stem gently into to smaller pieces. Ta-da...you've got florets. Sometimes I cut the florets fresh from the Farmers Market and freeze them, use them as a snack or toss them into a salad.
 
Allow the mixture to simmer until thick. Add shredded roasted chicken and spoon over pasta. Simple, huh? And a small serving is very filling.
A béchamel sauce is easy, creamy and versatile and can be used to make a MEAN wild mushroom lasagna. There is something that I like about the mixture of béchamel with pasta. It's a divine match.
So, if you are having a busy evening and no ideas for a meal or just want to walk on the wild side and create something new.

Cooking with love makes any recipe taste better.... even when going back to the basics with butter.