Enhance your white pizza with béchamel sauce
If you want to give a decadently creamy taste and texture to your pizza menu this fall and winter, there is no better place to start than with a scratch-made béchamel sauce. While red pies are the undisputed fan favorite, white pizzas continue to surge in popularity as consumers become ever more adventurous and demand variety. Everyone is looking for a flavor bomb, and a well done béchamel will certainly provide that!
White sauces originated in the Emilia-Romagna region of italy. Béchamel is amongst the first white sauces, making it a classic staple that is not foreign to your customer base. Start your béchamel with a roux — a butter and flour blend that, when cooked together, forms a base for many different sauces. From there, make your béchamel using onions, milk and salt. When it comes down to it, it is a deceptively simple sauce!
We have this easy recipe stored in the Pizza Today archives. It was given to us many years ago by the late, great Pat Bruno. Pat was not only a friend, but a monthly contributor to this magazine as well as to International Pizza Expo. You may remember seeing him emcee the International Pizza Challenge. His wit, charm and sense of humor were only matched by his cooking chops!
Once you have established this versatile base, it is time to get started on your pizza creations. Béchamel is not a bland sauce, so do not do yourself the injustice of treating it as such. Let your creativity know no bounds! We experiment a lot in our test kitchen. Not everything turns out perfectly, and that is okay. You obviously are not going to feed your customers anything less than a winner. So take your time playing around with different topping combinations until you hit on one you know your customer base will appreciate.
While we will get to a pizza recipe in a moment, bear in mind that béchamel, as previously mentioned, is a versatile sauce. It pairs exceptionally well with chicken, bacon, seafood and fresh vegetables. Grilled shrimp and broccoli, for example, are naturals when it comes to teaming up with béchamel.
This sauce can also be used to great effect in pasta dishes. Béchamel may not be as popular as Alfredo when it comes to this application, but your customers will not be disappointed. This recipe is a personal favorite of mine:
Use these simple, yet delicious, recipes as a starting point. Your kitchen staff is one of your largest assets when it comes to menu building — encourage them to run with the idea of creating a lineup of white pies and pasta dishes that feature béchamel. From there they will likely want to branch out and try Mornay and other creamy sauces, and that creativity and enthusiasm is exactly what you’re looking for from your back of house crew!
When you hit on something that passes your internal taste and food cost tests, use it as a limited-time offering and promote it on your social media feeds. As you can see from the photo on page 34, a béchamel pizza with a little green added is a beautiful thing. Capture it near a front window bathed in natural light and you’ll have an instant Instagram hit on your hands.
Béchamel pizzas, much like the Sweet Potato Pizza recipe from Tony Gemignani, make for wonderful cool weather offerings.
Jeremy White is Editor-in-Chief of Pizza Today.