When you live in coastal areas you can sometimes take access to fresh seafood for granted. On the North Fork of Long Island we are lucky to have all the local produce from the farms and wine from the vineyards along with the seafood for which I give thanks on a daily basis. I featured this sauce along with many other gifts from the land and the sea on Saturday, November 12th at Cuvée Bistro for the volunteers that have helped make Eastern Long Island Hospital in Greenport, one of the best hospitals in the region.
Velouté — the sauce. Sometimes seafood needs the warmth of a sauce that will complement the seafood along with the side dish of roasted potatoes or brussel sprouts.
Velouté is just bechamel with liquid added to it. The liquid can be stock of any kind, vegetable stock, shrimp or lobster stock or some wine and a dash of fresh herbs. You just need to start with a béchamel that you can divide into small containers to freeze it.
At Cuvée, we serve it on our crispy oysters, on sautéed black fish or meaty cod and a variety of vegetables from the Krupski’s Farmstand. They have some beautiful brussel sprouts right now!
Recipe for Béchamel
2 tablespoons of butter (or subsitute olive oil if you are a vegan or lactose intolerant)
1 tablespoon finely chopped shallot or onion (optional)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups low-fat (1 percent) milk (or vegetable stock if you are vegan or lactose intolerant)
Salt to taste
Tiny pinch of nutmeg (warning that if it is more than a dash — you will ruin your sauce)
Freshly ground white or black pepper
1. Heat the oil over medium heat in a heavy medium saucepan. Add the shallot or onion, and cook, stirring, until softened, about three minutes. Stir in flour, and cook, stirring, for about three minutes until smooth and bubbling but not browned. The paste should have the texture of wet sand. Whisk in the milk all at once, and bring to a simmer, whisking all the while, until the mixture begins to thicken. Turn the heat to very low, and simmer, stirring often with a whisk and scraping the bottom and edges of the pan with a rubber spatula, for 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and lost its raw flour taste. Season with salt and pepper. Strain while hot into canning jars in small portions for future use in veloutes.
Yield: Makes 1 1/2 cups
Add two tablespoons of béchamel to a saucepan along with one cup of stock and a half a cup of Wolffer Estate Verjus and whisk on medium flame until sauce starts to thicken. Verjus gives a light, tangy flavor to sauces and does not require as much cooking to render the alcohol since it doesn’t have any! Add more bechamel and whisk quickly if you feel the sauce is not thick enough (or add more liquid if too thick). Add finely minced herbs at the end. Drizzle on crispy Widow’s Hole oysters from Greenport on a bed of wilted spinach like we do at Cuvée or on poached fish with some mussels and sautéed vegetables.