Infinitely useful in the kitchen, a good Bechamel or White Sauce is smooth, silky and luxurious. To get that velvety texture requires some good whisking action – no lumps allowed. In no time, you’ll have a thick creamy sauce that you’ll want to pour over everything!!
The thought of making bechamel sauce is something that in years gone by sent shivers down my spine. It’s the lumps and bumps that formed in my sauce that frustrated me. With a bit more attention to detail, and watching my mother more closely, l finally nailed it.
Bechamel Sauce requires only three main ingredients: flour, butter and milk. Sounds easy?
It is, as long as you make sure you don’t have any lumps!! This means some vigorous stirring, and not being afraid to take the pot off the stove (momentarily) to stir out any potential lumps.
Bechamel Sauce is central to holding together some of the most classic dishes such as lasagne, mousaka or fish pie. If you want to make a chowder, mornay or gratin, a bechamel sauce is perfect to get you there.
It can also be easily transformed into a number of sauces. Throw in some parsley and you’ve got a Parsley Sauce. A Mustard Bechamel is easily made by just adding a teaspoon of Dijon or English mustard. Make your sauce even more sumptuous by throwing in a handful of Pecorino or Cheddar Cheese at the end. Anchovy Bechamel any-one?
I could go on, but l think you get the gist!
Cooking time: 10 – 12 mins Yields: 3 cups
- 60 g / 2 oz plain (all purpose) flour
- 60 g / 2 oz butter
- 3 cups milk (note 1)
- pinch of nutmeg
- salt & pepper to taste
- Melt butter over moderate – low heat in a medium saucepan. Add the flour and stir continuously (1 minute). You will end up with a sandy-coloured paste.
- At this point, l switch my wooden spoon for a whisk. Add 1 cup of milk and stir vigorously to prevent any lumps from forming. You will feel it thicken quickly. It will loosen as you add more milk (1 – 2 mins).
- Turn the heat up to moderate high. Add another cup of milk and stir until well incorporated (1 min).
- Add the final cup of milk and continue stirring until the sauce starts to boil. Then reduce down to moderate heat. Make sure you stir to the edges of the saucepan and across the base to prevent the sauce from sticking.
- Continue stirring until a smooth, thick sauce forms ( 5 – 8 mins). If you feel your sauce is too thin, continue cooking until it thickens.
- Remove from the stove. Season with salt, white pepper and a dash of nutmeg.
- Having the milk at room temperature simply speeds up the process. If l forget, l’ll pop it in the microwave for a minute or so.