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White Sauce Recipe - Besciamella - Bechamel Sauce Recipe

User Rating 4 Star Rating (2 Reviews)

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According to Pellegrino Artusi, a good béchamel sauce and a properly cooked meat sauce are the principal secrets of refined cooking.

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 15 minutes

Ingredients:

  • Flour
  • Unsalted butter
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Nutmeg (optional)

Preparation:

Artusi suggests you begin by lightly browning a heaping tablespoon of flour in a chunk of unsalted butter the size of a walnut, and then has you slowly stir in 2 cups of the best milk, and keep stirring until the mixture appears to be a milk-like cream.

He goes on to say, "If it comes out too stiff, add more milk; should it be too liquid return it to the fire and add another piece of butter rolled in flour. This recipe makes a substantial amount, but you can vary the quantities according to your needs."

While Artusi's instructions work (quite well) the process isn't quite as easy as he suggests, at least not on the first attempt. Once you've heated the butter and flour, add the milk very slowly, while stirring. The flour will bubble and expand; stir vigorously to keep lumps from forming. Should they form anyway, reduce the flow of milk to a trickle until you've stirred them out. Once you've added all the milk, stir the sauce slowly over a moderate flame until it thickens. Depending upon what you plan to use it for, you may wish to season it with salt and pepper to taste.

Making béchamel sauce in a microwave oven is much easier and faster than making it over the stove. Melt the butter and stir in the flour, then stir in the milk and, if you wish, salt and pepper. Heat the sauce on high power for 1 minute and stir it briskly till most of the lumps are gone. Heat it for five more minutes at medium power, stirring every minute or so. Let it sit for a couple of minutes, and it's ready. Pastry cream can also be made this way.

My Reply to Dan, who modified his Besciamella
Bescaimella is a simple white sauce that generally goes into other things, for example lasagna alla bolognese or broiled fennel. It is bland because it's meant to be added to other ingredients, providing rich creaminess but not changing the flavor cast of the dish. If you use it as is, by all means jazz it up!
Kyle Phillips, Your Guide to Italian Cooking
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