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 a 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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