Haute Cuisine or Country Cookin’?

Trent Marshall didn’t have a good feeling about Peter Sanford Herrin, as the man introduced himself on the telephone. Trent found Peter Sanford Herrin to be prone to malapropisms and pure balderdash. He was, as Ivy would say, “eaten up with himself.” Trent wasn’t impressed.

Peter Sanford Herrin had a matter he wanted Trent to investigate. He asked if they could meet for lunch. Trent named a restaurant, one that he and Darcey had found to be as pretentious as Peter Sanford Herrin appeared, though the food wasn’t bad.

After the trio introduced themselves, they ordered martinis and studied the menu while they waited for the cocktails to be served. When the waiter returned, Trent and Darcey ordered Salisbury Steaks with Béchamel Sauce. Peter Sanford Herrin said he would have the same.

“Are you sure that’s what you want?” Darcey asked.

“Well, yes,” Peter Sanford Herrin replied. “It’s hard to go wrong with a steak and the sauce sounds good.”

“Oh yes,” Darcey said. “Béchamel Sauce is the first of Escoffier’s five French mother sauces. And the most versatile.”

When the waiter returned with their dinners, Peter Sanford Herrin looked surprised.

“What’s this?” he asked.

“It’s what you ordered,” Trent said, not looking up. “Salisbury Steak with Béchamel Sauce.”

“But…but it’s hamburger with rice and gravy,” Peter Sanford Herrin sputtered.

“That’s what we call it on the farm,” Darcey said.

Peter Sanford Herrin took a bite.

“It’s good!”

“Yep,” Trent said, still not looking up.

When he did look up, he declined to look into the matter of concern to Peter Sanford Herrin. Something to do with cabotage, which once applied only to ships but now seemed to include any method of transporting cargo. Trent wasn’t interested. It sounded boring, and boredom was the only thing that frightened him.

Trent and Darcey often make a Béchamel sauce at home. It’s easy and, as they say on the farm, rice and gravy is good with most anything.

Four of the five mother sauces start with a roux, a mixture of oil and flour. Hollandaise is the only one that is not.

Trent and Darcey’s Béchamel often takes on a pink hue because they add a little paprika. It’s one of their favorite spices. The paprika is entirely optional.

They also often opt for white pepper. Freshly ground black pepper is more commonly used.

Here’s their recipe for Béchamel sauce. It’s pretty much the same the world over.

Haute cuisine. Country cookin’. Take your pick. Either way it’s good eatin’.

Béchamel Sauce

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups milk

salt & white pepper to taste (or freshly ground black pepper)

1 tablespoon paprika (optional)

Melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the flour and stir constantly until the butter and flour are well combined. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Add the milk a little at a time, continuing to stir to combine the liquid with the roux.

When the milk and roux are fully combined, let the mixture simmer until enough liquid has evaporated to bring the sauce to the desired thickness.

Salisbury Steak with Béchamel Sauce or hamburger with rice & gravy. Which is it?

As they say on Governor Nicholls Street in New Orleans, Bon Temps!

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