Serving

Béchamel Sauce
France
  -   Sauce béchamel     Italy   Besciamella
Makes
Effort:
Sched:
DoAhead:  
2 cups  
**
25 min  
Yes
In France, this important sauce is credited to Louis de Béchamel, maitre d'hôtel to Louis XIV, but it had already long been used in Italy under the name Balsamella, now spelled Besciamella. There is disagreement as to how to keep it from getting lumps, see Note-1, and see Note-2 on thickness. Note-4 for sauces made fro béchamel.






2-1/2
4
6
1/3
1/4
1/16
c
T
T
t
t
t
Milk
Butter (3)
Flour
Salt
Pepper, white
Nutmeg
  1. Keep Milk well chilled.
  2. Melt Butter over moderate heat in a heavy bottomed saucepan. Stir in Flour and cook stirring constantly for a couple of minutes until the flour is a light blonde color (no browing at all) and no longer smells raw. This is called a "blonde roux".
  3. Take off the heat and stir in the chilled Milk all at once. Return to the heat and stir constantly until the sauce thickens and becomes smooth, about 10 minutes.
  4. Season with Salt, White Pepper and Nutmeg.
  5. If you need to hold the sauce, cover the surface with plastic film, or otherwise protect it from air. It can be refrigerated overnight - reheat very slowly with plenty of stirring.
NOTES:
  1. Method:   Most recipes tell you to heat the milk to a simmer, then stir it into the roux starting with fractions of a teaspoon and adding slowly increasing amounts until it is all stirred in. Mapie, Countess de Toulouse-Lautrec, says you will be much more successful stirring chilled milk into the hot roux all at once. Alma Lach concurrs. These are two of the formost experts in the French cuisine, and it works for me, so I give that method here. If you do get any lumps, strain them out.
  2. Thickness:   This sauce can be made a little thicker by using a bit more flour, but also add a little butter as the weight of flour must not exceed the weight of butter. Alma Lach makes it a little thicker than give here, then thins it with some cream if it is to be used plain.
  3. Butter:   In Provence, France, Olive Oil may be used in place of the butter.
  4. Sauces from Béchamel. These hints aren't detailed enough for most cooks, but are suggestions for what to look for.
  5. U.S. measure: t=teaspoon, T=Tablespoon, c=cup, qt=quart, oz=ounce, #=pound, cl=clove in=inch, ar=as required tt=to taste
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