Sauce Bechamel

Quantity: 3/4 liter (3 cups)

Sauce Béchamel is needed in a great number of French recipes. In the Mediterranean cuisine it plays a marginal role at best.

It originated in the 17th century and was named in honor of Louis de Bechameil, an economic advisor to Louis XIV. The original recipe calls for sweet cream to be added to a basic stock made of chicken, veal or fish and seasoning with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

You can follow the elaborate original recipe, which requires about 1 hour time or the quick way I am showing here. I have used both methods and came to the conclusion that the elaborate method is not worth the effort.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 3 cups (750 ml) of milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Preparation:

In a medium saucepan melt the butter over medium-low heat. Always use a heavy bottom stainless steel saucepan in order to avoid burning. Add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook until mixture turns golden sandy in color, about 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan just until it’s about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter-flour mixture a little at a time, whisking continuously until very smooth. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes. If sauce starts to get lumpy remove it from the heat, pass it through a fine sieve or put it in a mixer. Return to the pot and reheat. Remove from the heat, season with salt, pepper and nutmeg.

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