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White base sauce recipe

White base sauce recipe

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Master this simple Béchamel to give dishes a rich, creamy flavour. To avoid it catching and burning, keep a close eye on it and make sure you stir it constantly. See method

  • Makes 10 litres
  • 50 minutes, plus chopping


  • 1.6kg onions
  • 1.6kg leeks
  • 4 tbsps olive oil
  • 300g unsalted butter
  • 600g plain flour
  • 8 litres semi-skimmed milk
If you don't have any leeks, try using spring or white onions instead


  1. Peel and roughly chop the onions.
  2. Trim, wash and slice the leeks.
  3. Place a pan large enough to hold all the ingredients on a medium heat, add oil.
  4. Add the vegetables and cook with the lid on for 30 minutes or until the vegetables are softened and lightly coloured, stirring every so often. Add the butter.
  5. Tip in the flour and stir it into the buttery veg until well mixed.
  6. Divide the milk between three cups and add one cup to the pan, stirring until completely incorporated. Add the second cup and repeat, followed by the final cup.
  7. Pour in the remaining milk and bring to the boil, stirring continuously.
  8. Reduce the heat to low and cook for 20 minutes or until thickened, stirring regularly.
  9. Carefully pour the sauce into a clean pan, leaving behind any burnt bits that are stuck to the bottom, and whiz with a stick blender until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Tip: Let your sauce cool as quickly as possible, then cover, label and chill, or freeze.

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