Now, I'm not going to tell you about every single sauce, because thats just too much to read and type (a couple of my books have twenty page chapters devoted to sauces), so heres a brief about Bechamel!
I could tell you what to look for in a perfect bechamel, but you will know when its just right. No chunks, rich flavor, thats all you need. Heres a pretty basic recipe.
1 Onion Piquet(This is half an onion with a bay leaf pinned to it with a clove)
1/2 Gal Milk (I prefer whole, but its up to you, remember, the less fat in the milk, the harder it is to thicken)
4 Oz. Flour (not a good time to use whole wheat or anything fancy, just all purpose will do)
4 Oz. Clarified butter (Melt 4 ounces of butter, take the white stuff out, voila! clarified butter)
Salt, White Pepper, and Nutmeg to taste
So you have a saucepan with the milk, add the onion piquet to that and let it simmer for about 20-25 minutes. I cant stress this enough, this isn't a set and forget type thing, set the heat really low or else you risk a massive boil over!
In a different pot, combine the butter and flour and on medium heat. This is where you create the thickener known as a Roux. You'll wanna stir constantly until its a little bubbly in appearance. USE YOUR SENSES! The smell should somewhat resemble a light smell of popcorn and a pale yellow color.
Now while whisking pretty heavily, add some of the milk to the roux pot, make sure there are no lumps and bring it to a boil. transfer the milk/roux back to the big batch and whisk some more. Let it simmer for about a half hour, strain, and boom! Bechamel sauce. for storage pour a little melted butter on the top to stop that nasty film from forming.
This single sauce can compound into a lot of different sauces like: Modern, Cream, Mornay, and Cheese.
Hope you learned something today!