One of the core French sauces, also known as the Milk Sauce. This is basically a butter-flour roux mixed with milk. To make, warm the milk on low heat in one pan, while melting butter in another. Add flour to the melted butter and whisk until smooth, then cook 2-3 minutes on medium low heat. To prevent lumps from forming, you should add the warmed milk a little bit at a time while whisking constantly, returning the sauce to a simmer after each addition. Cook approximately 5 minutes or until desired thickness. Be careful not to use too high heat, or the sauce may break. If your sauce should break, remove from heat and add 2 ice cubes while whisking until the sauce is back together.

For a thin sauce, use 1 tablespoon of butter and flour per 1 cup milk. For a medium sauce, use 2 tablespoons each per cup milk. For a thick sauce, use 3 tablespoons each per cup milk.

There's nothing simple about it!

I always get this sauce wrong - the secret is to watch it like a manic obsessive hawk and not let it overcook, which I invariably do.

What you need is equal amounts of butter, flour and milk. Melt the butter in a pan over a very small flame (or even better, in a bain-marie). When it's nice and clear and beginning to simmer slightly, whisk in the flour and keep whisking until the mixture is smooth and even.

Now add the milk, and keep your eyes peeled! The damn infuriating thing will be ready just when you least expect it. It should be bubbling, very white and very creamy - with no visible traces of yellow fat. Speed it off the flame and use it as soon as possible - under no circumstances should it be reheated, it'll be awful.

This is the best and easiest way of making what is also known as "white sauce" for lasagne and other bakes.

The recipe listed above ccunning is what I know as a simple white sauce. The Bechamel recipe that I was taught is almost identical, barring the fact that the milk used should be infused first.

This is done by adding half an onion, a bay leaf, 3-4 black peppercorns, half a chopped carrot, half a chopped stick of celery, and (depending on the slightly different versions of this recipe out there) a blade of mace, to the milk. This mixture is then heated to just below boiling point, before letting it cool, and straining it. You then use it just as in ccunning's recipe, but make sure you cook the resulting sauce through for around 20 minutes, to break down the starches in the flour otherwise it will taste the sauce.

The result is a more savoury sauce with more depth of flavour.

From: The Thorough Good Cook

Sauces: 8. Bechemel.

Put six ounces of flour in a basin; moisten with half a pint of cold milk; pour into a stew-pan, stir it on the fire; as soon as the mixture becomes a smooth paste, take it off the fire and work it well with a spoon. Then add three-quarters of a pint of boiled milk, two small onions, a bunch of parsley, salt, peppercorns, and four ounces of raw ham in small dice; bring it to the boil; put it back on a very slow fire, and cook it for twenty minutes, stirring carefully from time to time ; pass all through a tammy.

If you think the sauce too rich for macaroni, you can serve with the gravy of roast meat, thickened with a little flour, and rendered more relishable with a little burnt onion.
Béchamel Sauce is used over fish, meat, fowl, and game mixtures with vegetables. It is also part of a number of other recipes; I have included it here because it is used to make Lobster Bohemienne.

1 quart of milk
1 bay leaf
¼ cup of butter
1-½ tablespoons of grated onion
¼ cup of flour
2 tablespoons of butter
¼ lb of veal
White pepper
Dash of nutmeg
2 well-beaten egg yolks

In a large saucepan scald 1 quart of milk with 1 large bay leaf.

Meanwhile in another saucepan heat ¼ cup of butter, sauté 1-½ tablespoons of grated onion in the butter, stirring almost constantly; do not brown the onion. Stir in ¼ cup of flour. Remove the bay leaf from the scalded milk. Slowly add the scalded milk to the flour and butter mixture, stirring constantly until smooth. Set over hot water to keep the sauce hot.

In another saucepan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter; season with salt, pepper and a dash of nutmeg, then stir in ¼ pound of coarsely chopped lean raw veal do not let the veal brown.

Very slowly pour the scalded milk mixture over the veal and cook over a very low flame, in a large heavy saucepan for one hour stirring frequently from the bottom of the pan.

Strain this sauce through a fine-meshed sieve and place bits from a tablespoon of butter over the sauce to prevent a crust from forming on the sauce. Just before serving stir in two well beaten egg yolks.

Note: This sauce will keep for a week in a sealed jar in the refrigerator and can be reheated over hot water, (don’t add the egg yolks if storing).

see also Bechemel Sauce

Béch"a*mel (?), n. [F. béchamel, named from its inventor, Louis de Béchamel.] Cookery

A rich, white sauce, prepared with butter and cream.


© Webster 1913.

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