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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Béchamel: Intimidating to Say, Simple to Make

Sometimes a recipe calls for a pre-sauce, an ingredient you have to make before you start cooking. This requirement may send you looking for something less fussy, especially if that pre-sauce comes with a fancy French name—"Béchamel," for example.

Béchamel is actually really easy. And quick. And versatile. In fact, it's nothing more than the simple white sauce that our mothers used to make.

We made a batch for our Christmas timbales, then used the leftover sauce in another dish the next day. It takes about five minutes and can be added to cream soups and used to thicken other sauces.

You'd never eat béchamel by itself; it always goes into something else to make it richer and creamier. By adding ingredients like salt, nutmeg, and cheese, you can make stand-alone sauces.

Bechamel Sauce

1.5 T. butter
2 T. flour
1 cup milk

1. Heat a saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the butter, then the flour. Stir with a whisk continuously until it is blended thoroughly.

2. Add the milk, stirring rapidly with the whisk.

3. Heat over low flame until the mixture thickens to the consistency of heavy cream, stirring often enough to keep a skin from forming on the top. This should take about five minutes.

Yield: one cup.

What could be simpler?

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha ha. I laugh because I find the name "bechamel" intimidating... but I make "white sauces" using almost the same recipe all the time! Now I won't be so intimidated by a little Francais!