A good Bechemel is the foundation for so many good things. Many of our parents were making Bechemel, or something very similar, not knowing that they were making one of the classic mother sauces. My own mother simply called it white sauce. She used it for making creamed peas, or creamed chip beef, and things like that.
To me, the roux is the most important part of making a proper flour-based sauce, be it bechemel, or Veloute, or Espaniole, etc. If the roux is made properly, you almost can't mess up the sauce that is made with it.
I also use a heavy Bechemel to bind creamy soups. A little added to a great pot of split pea soup doesn't alter the flavor, except to add a little buttery flavor (and that's a good thing). It does keep the solids from settling in the soup. And the soup becomes creamier in texture as well. It also works with lentel, and bean soups. I've even known people to add it to chile (not me. I promise.)
And we all know that bechemel can be used to make cheese sauces, and gravies. It's just such a versatile sauce.
But you have to get the roux right. And you have to know how to cook it to the proper color for the sauce you are making, as the roux has completely different flavor as it browns to different shades.
Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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