Originally Posted by auntdot
Whenever I hear a question like this, I go back to basics.
Folks made darned good bechemel on wood fired stoves without stainless steel pans.
Have been in restaurants where they were cooking with pots that looked like the bottoms could not stand one more cleaning without having a gape. Yet they made a darned good product.
Put something in the oven and you can relax for a bit.
But anything on top of the stove needs watching.
Too much heat and the sauce burns. If you have a hot stove, put the pan down and move it off when it gets too hot and keep stirring.
Cooking to me is both technique and art. But without the technique, the art is lost.
Sorry if I am ranting, just feel a bit peckish today.
I tend to agree with you. I'm not going to purchase $90+ pans when my inexpensive cast-iron and hand-me-down SS pans give me great performance. It's not the pans that make great food, it's the person using them.
I'm going to recap what was already posted. First, know what you are working with, sticky, starchy flour and fat. The flour, if heated too much will scorch, as will dairy products used in the sauce. So use moderate to low heat, just enought to simmer the sauce. Melt the butter or fat into the pan. Add the same amount of flour, and a pinch of salt, and whisk together until a smooth paste is formed. Then, add either cream, half 'n half, or milk (they all work) slowly to the roux. Continue adding liquid while whisking until the sauce has thinned to the consistancy you want to achieve.
Traditional seasonings for Bechemel are simply salt, and a bit of nutmeg. This is why it is one of the Mother Sauces. Once you have the Bechemel sauce made, then you add other flavors and ingredients, such as cheese, or pepper, or soup base. You throw in pearl onions and allow to simmer until the onions are tender and you have creamed onions. Throw in some Parmesano Regiano and you have something very close to an Alfredo sauce, though some would contend that Alfredo sauce is made with heavy cream, with no roux involved. I've had it both ways and they are both good.
If you use the same technique for making the roux, and thin it with the broth from split pea soup, and then add the sauce to the soup, it will suspend the solids and "bind" the soup.
There are so many small, or derivative sauces that can be made from Bechemel sauce, not to mention a host of chowders, creamed soups and veggies, creamed chipped beef, soufle's, etc. You can even, with some imagination and a bit of egg, or cornstarch, make your own tasty puddings that are cream smooth and yummy. Bechemel also makes a great starter for the cheese sauce for cheese macaroni.
As Aunt Dot said, it's not the pan, its the cook, and the technique used that makes for great Bechemel.