Bechamel Sauce: Recipe and Tips

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An easy-to-prepare sauce that combines well with a multitude of dishes

It is one of the most-utilized sauces in kitchens around the world. Bechamel, also called besamel, besciamella (in Italy) or salsa blanca (in Latin America), is a thick sauce prepared with a roux—a mix of flour and butter—and milk.

Some recipes use another type of fat, like extra virgin olive oil or margarine, and the sauce is principally used accompany pasta or vegetables. Furthermore, it serves as the base of many other sauces. Adding cream to a bechamel sauce turns it into a Crème sauce; if you add tomato sauce, Aurora; onion puree, Soubise; or cheese and broth, Mornay.

If the milk is substituted for fish, meat, or poultry broth, it is called velouté. In contrast to other sauces, bechamel can be easily prepared and used immediately, unlike meat gravies that require an extensive cooking time to thicken.

Ingredients

  • 50 g butter
  • 50 g flour
  • 500 ml whole milk
  • Salt and black pepper
  • Nutmeg

Step-by-step preparation

  1. In a saucepan, heat the milk over low heat. If you would like, you can add a bay leaf.
  2. In another pot, melt the butter over low heat and add the flour.
  3. Stir constantly so that the mix is homogeneous and golden to ensure that the flour fully cooks.
  4. Add the milk little by little to the roux (butter and flour), mixing constantly with a whisk to ensure that lumps don’t form.
  5. Add the salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg.
  6. Keep mixing the sauce for about 20 minutes, making sure that it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
  7. Remove the bechamel sauce from heat and transfer to a dish.

Tips

  • If you keep the bechamel in the fridge, cover with plastic wrap touching the sauce so that the surface doesn’t harden.
  • If the bechamel sauce has turned out too thick, you can add a little bit more milk.
  • If you use bechamel as a pasta sauce, reduce the flour by 20 grams so that it is a bit thinner.
  • If you are preparing croquetas, increase the flour to 75 grams.
  • You can prepare an exquisite cheese sauce with this recipe by adding blue cheese, goat cheese, or any other strong cheese.

Don’t miss our Turkey Cordon Bleu recipe.

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