DINING WITH JOY
Béchamel…. It could be a song.
Béchamel, my darling, béchamel.
I told my husband if we ever get another dog, we’re naming it Béchamel.
With all of my books, I do a lot of research. The smallest detail can provide the best conflict or the perfect solution to a character problem. One time, I called around the country trying to find out where the release hand was on a ’66 Cadillac El Dorado. A classic car dealer in California had the answer.
For Joy’s story, I read the memoirs of Julia Child and Judith Jones. I watched Food Network online, caught video clips of Bobby Flay and Paula Deen. I called a
cooking teacher in California to discuss why people can’t cook, and her approach to teaching them. A chef in Virginia gave me insight into cooking competitions.
I watched cooking videos on You Tube. I highly recommend the game show “Ready, Set, Cook.” Almost at every turn, I came across the term béchamel.
During this time, I was also watching DVDs of the “Gilmore Girls,” a show with many food accents, and during one episode chef Sookie St. James accused diner owner Luke Danes of putting walnuts in her béchamel recipe.
All right, if Luke knows how to make béchamel, then why don’t I?
So, with recipe in hand I face my very clean stove. Béchamel is a sauce, or a roux, of flour, butter, and milk with a dash of nutmeg. It’s the base for great dishes like gumbo.
In a sauce pan, I stirred the flour and butter over a low burner. Heated the milk and added it one cup at a time. Ten minutes later, I’d created a béchamel sauce with my very own hands and felt quite proud.
Now what? The sauce looked too creamy and warm to throw away. I needed to actually use the béchamel for a meal.
Opening my fridge, I found the Italian sausage I bought the Thursday before — six days and counting — and decided to do something with it. I browned the meat with some peppers and onions then add the béchamel. In the pantry, I found a can of stewed Italian tomatoes, cracked it open and poured it into the dish. It smelled divine.
Rachel’s Béchamel Sausage was the best meal we ate last year. Hubby said, “Did you keep this recipe? Please tell me you kept this recipe.” (Wink) I did.
Try it. Let me know what you think!
Rachel’s Béchamel Sausage
Prep time: 1 hour
For the béchamel
5 tablespoons butter (you can use light butter)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk (you can use skim)
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, ground or freshly grated
For the sausage
1 teaspoon olive or canola oil
1 large onion, chopped
1 large garlic clove, chopped
1 large green pepper, chopped
4 medium Italian turkey sausages
1 (8-ounce) can Italian spiced diced tomatoes
French bread, for serving
1. To make the béchamel: In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Increase heat to medium and cook until the mixture turns a light, golden sandy color, about 6 to 7 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan until just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture 1 cup at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil. Cook 10 minutes, stirring constantly, then remove from heat. Season with salt and nutmeg, and set aside until ready to use.
3. To make the sausage: In a warmed, large skillet, heat oil and sauté onions and garlic over medium heat. When caramelized, add pepper. Crumble sausage into the skillet and brown. Drain excess oil. Add béchamel and cook to bubbling over medium heat. Add tomatoes and stir. Cook on medium heat for approximately fifteen minutes.
4. Serve with warmed French bread.
Yield: 3-4 servings