The “Mother “of All White Sauce’s is “Béchamel”
It is the creamiest flavor enhancing sauce you will ever make and can be changed with added ingredients to make this sauce blend well with any dish. Simple yet packs a punch to any cuisine. Whether you pour it over or baking it with – Béchamel can take a simple dish to an exquisite level of a 5 star restaurant.
This wonderful sauce has both Italian “Balsamella” and French versions and is the key ingredient to some of my main dishes. This variation I came up with adds extra flavor to this already perfect sauce. There are times when I use the true Béchamel and will cover that on another post but for now a little history and my invention 🙂
This blog is not only about giving you some excellent recipes but also about learning. This post is part of that learning experience. I wanted to have a place that you can go and learn the backbone of cooking while making some unbelievable dishes right out of your own kitchen. So be sure to take the time and read what I have posted since it will help you down the road when we get into the more complicated recipes.
Pronounced (bé•cha•mel). Béchamel is traditionally made by melting a quantity of butter, and adding an equal part of flour to make a “roux” which is cooked under gentle heat while stirring with a whisk. As it is a white sauce, care must be taken not to brown the roux. The proportion of roux and milk determines the thickness of the sauce, one to three tablespoons each of flour and butter per cup of milk.
One tablespoon each of butter and flour per cup of milk makes a thin, easily pourable sauce. Two tablespoons of each makes a medium thick sauce. Three tablespoons of each makes an extra thick sauce. Salt and white pepper are added and it is customary, in Italy, to add a pinch of nutmeg. Typically the milk is steeped with a whole or cut onion, studded with one or more whole cloves then strained before adding to the roux.
Béchamel sauce is the base for a number of other classic sauces that we will be covering in later posts-Such as;
Definition of “Roux” is a thickening agent used to thicken gravy’s and sauces usually consisting of a mixture of flour and fats.
My recipe has a little nutty flavor since I am slightly browning my roux and also in place of butter I am using olive oil to add extra flavor while reducing the fat but trust me this is not a fatless recipe, less yes but not gone 🙂
This variation has a few ingredients that will blend well with seafood dishes and makes an excellent sauce to pour over pasta or cheese filled ravioli.
What You Will Need:
2 Medium Sized Sauce Pans (big enough to hold 6 cups of fluid comfortably)
1 Medium Sized Metal or Glass Bowl (Read about the Mesh Sieve or Strainer)
1 Fine Mesh Sieve or Strainer (It should fit on the top of your Metal or Glass Bowl)
1 Small Cutting Board
1 Sharpe Knife (or you can use chopper)
1 Wooden Spoon
- 2 Cups Water
- 4 Cups Heavy Cream
- ¾ Teaspoon Ground Nutmeg (Use fresh ground if you can but ok if you do not)
- 3 Large Bay Leafs
- 6 Tablespoons Fresh Garlic Chopped or 2 Tablespoons Chopped Jarred Garlic (drained)
- ½ Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1 Medium Sized White Onion chopped (should equal a little over 1 ½ Cups)
- 4 Tablespoons Finely Chopped Italian Parsley
- ½ Cups Light Olive Oil
- ¼ Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 6 Tablespoons All Purpose Flour
Special Note: you can replace the water and heavy cream with 6 cups of Whole or 2% Milk it will make a thinner sauce.
This will make 6 cups of Sauce
In one of the sauce pans place cream and water, add to this the nutmeg, bay leafs, garlic, pepper, and rough chopped white onions. Whisk the ingredients together.
Turn heat to medium flame to bring the milk mixture to just about boiling, reduce heat and steep for 15-20 minutes. Remember to keep it at simmer not boiling and whisk it periodically.
While the milk mixture is steeping, finely chop your Italian parsley and place aside for later use.
Set up your fine mesh strainer or sieve in metal or glass bowl place aside.
In the second sauce pan add all the oil and heat on medium to low heat until warm.
Once warm add all the flour and whisk until smooth, continue to whisk this do not stop. It will start to thicken and bubble as shown – KEEP AN EYE ON THIS you do not want it to burn. It will turn to the color you want really fast after it starts to bubble.
It will turn a light golden sandy color and when it does it is DONE!!!! TURN OFF HEAT Immediately!! Once you achieve the color – the heat will continue to cook this so keep whisking it to cool it down. I even suggest when you are almost there turn it off and whisk to get to the color shown. Total time from beginning to color is about 6 minutes. Keep the whisk in the pan you will need it when the seasoned milk mixture is ready.
You will have a little time left before you have to strain your seasoned milk mixture. You should smell the flavors of the nutmeg, bay leaf coming through also the onions and garlic. If not, you need to steep the mixture longer. Remember you are steeping for almost 20 minutes or longer.
Once the onions are really soft and the smell of the seasoned milk mixture is pungent with flavors, pour the mixture through your sieve or strainer into the glass or metal bowl. Discard the contents of what is in your sieve or strainer.
Turn the heat on low of your sandy flour mixture, using your whisk start to add the bowl of the seasoned milk to the sandy mixture until it is all in.
Keep whisking until smooth, turn up your heat to simmer and continue to whisk. It will start to thicken. This can take about 5-6 minutes. DO NOT WALK AWAY! Whisk until desired thickness is achieved. I have pictures below of how it looks while getting thick and to the finished sauce.
Turn off heat and with the wooden spoon add the finely chopped parsley and stir in.
Now you can use it for my Creamy Crab Filled Shells with Béchamel Sauce, pour this over spinach and cheese filled ravioli or stuffed chicken breasts. The sky is the limit with this Wonderful Sauce 🙂