Bechamel Sauce is a French Mother Sauce and used in various dishes with other derived sauces based on the Bechamel sauce. Get this White Sauce down, and you potentially have numerous other sauces at your fingertips or more.
The Classic Bechamel sauce contains three main ingredients (Butter & Flour or Roux with Milk). Along with Salt & Pepper to taste.
Consisting of equal amounts of Fat & Flour. A roux is cooked and used to thicken any liquids that will be added.
Butter is the type of fat used to create the roux. You can also use or Clarified Butter (Ghee).
All Purpose Flour is used in equal amounts as the Fat added.
The ratio is generally at 1 1/2 Tbl of Butter & Flour to 1 Cup of Milk. Anywhere from a little less roux for a Thinner Béchamel (1 Tbl) to doubled (2 Tbl) for a Thick Béchamel. Use more Roux or add Milk to adjust the consistency as desired.
Made with 6 Tbl of both Butter & Flour for 4 Cups of Milk.
In a Béchamel Sauce, you only want to cook the roux briefly, about 1 – 2 minutes. With no color change in the roux itself.
Keep mixing around and cook on medium heat for 1 – 2 minutes.
Use any type of Milk or Cream. Keep in mind, the fattier the Milk, the thicker the Béchamel sauce will be. Thin this out by adding in more liquid as you see fit.
I usually have 10 % Cream or Half & Half on hand and will dilute this by half. The below recipe calls for 4 Cups, I will use 2 Cup of Cream and 2 Cups of Water.
Seasoning Béchamel Sauce
Use Salt & Pepper to season the Béchamel Sauce. Either Black and/or White Pepper. Add to taste and bring out the flavors a bit more. A bit of Cayenne Pepper is nice too. Nutmeg is usually added to Béchamel.
Flavoring Béchamel Sauce
The plain version today with Milk & Roux can be improved upon by simmering the Sauce with Onions, Clove, Bay Leaf & Nutmeg or just the addition of Nutmeg omitting the Onion, Cloves and Bay Leaf.
How to store béchamel Sauce
Once the Béchamel sauce is made and removed from the heat. A piece of saran wrap can be placed directly in contact with the sauce in order to prevent a skin from forming on the surface. Here it can stay for a while. Butter can also be melted on top to prevent a skin from forming.
Béchamel sauce can also be refrigerated for up to about 5 days and reheated. Optionally with more Milk to adjust the consistency. Pour the Béchamel sauce into a Tupperware container, cover and refrigerate.
Small Sauces are based on or derived from the Mother Sauce. The ingredients for each small sauce are added to the Béchamel (Mother Sauce) to create numerous other small sauces. To 1 L of Béchamel Sauce, add in the below ingredients for the various small sauces that can be made.
Cheddar Cheese Sauce
- 1 Cup Cheddar Cheese
- 1/2 tsp Mustard
- 2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1/2 C – 1 C of Heavy Cream, heated or tempered
- 1/2 C Grated Gruyere Cheese
- 60 g Parmesan Cheese
- Stir in until it is just melted. Finish off heat with
- 60 g Butter
Thin the sauce out with hot milk if necessary. Or use stock or broth appropriate for the dish being prepared
Mornay Sauce for Glazing or Gratin
Finish Mornay Sauce with Liaison of 2 Egg Yolks and 60 ml heavy cream.
1/2 C Prepared Mustard
- 175 g of Shrimp Butter
- 1/2 C Heavy Cream
1 Lbs of Onions finely diced, cooked slowly in 60g of Butter without browning. Simmer with sauce 15 minutes and force through a fine sieve.
Tomato Soubise Sauce
2 C Thick Tomato Purée to Soubise Sauce.
Béchamel sauce for Lasagna
For Lasagna, just the Classic Béchamel or Béchamel sauce with 1 Cup of Parmigiano Reggiano Cheese added in is good for Lasagna.
- 1 Stockpot
- 1 Whisk
- 4 C Milk - or 2 Cups of 10 % Cream & Water each
- 6 Tbl Butter
- 6 Tbl Flour
- 1 small Onion - Peeled, optional
- 1 Bay Leaf - optional
- 1 whole Clove - optional
- pinch Nutmeg - optional
- To Taste Salt & Pepper - Black Pepper and/or White Pepper
- Heat the Butter in a heavy Sauce Pot over medium heat. Whisk in the Flour and make a White Roux, cook for about 1 -2 minute or more, but don't let the color change.
- Turn the heat up to max and add Milk slowly and a little at a time while constantly whisking vigorously. Optionally you can scald the Milk before adding to the Roux, this will speed up the thickening and reduce clumping, but this step can be skipped.
- Bring the Sauce to a Boil, constantly whisking. Reduce heat to medium and simmer. Stick the Bay leaf to the Onion with the Clove and add to the Sauce. Gentle simmer for about 15 minutes or longer to thicken. Mix every few minutes.
- Remove the Onion with the Clove & Bay leaf and Season with Salt & Pepper to bring the flavors out and very lightly with nutmeg. Serve or store until ready to use – see notes
- Spread melted butter on the surface to prevent skin formation, and keep warm or cool in a cold water bath for later use.
- Pressing a piece of plastic wrap against its surface will prevent a skin from forming as well.
- Too Thick – Add more Milk
- Too Thin – Simmer a bit to reduce
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