This silky sauce is also called white sauce and it is used on its own or as a base for plenty of other sauces.
Some say it found its origins in Tuscany but we believe the theory that béchamel was invented by Duke Philippe De Mornay, governor of Saumur in France in the 16th century. He named it after his superintendent Louis de Béchamel. This sauce is one of the 5 French mother sauces.
The thickness of the sauce changes according to the recipe’s purpose. The béchamel ratio for butter and flour, also called roux, are as following for half a litre of milk:
- 30 g of butter + 30 g of flour fluid to coat vegetables
- 40 g of butter + 40 g of flour regular for lasagne, gratin
- 60 g of butter + 60 g of flour thick for soufflé, croquette
- Make the roux first; melt the butter over medium heat and add the flour. Stir to combine and cook the mixture for about 3 minutes.
- Remove from the stove and mix well with the cold milk. Then, bring to the boil while stirring non-stop until you get the required thickness. Season to taste with salt, pepper and nutmeg.
- Mixing the hot roux with cold milk helps to avoid lumps during the cooking process. If you prepare the roux in advance and it has cooled down, then mix it with hot milk.
- When ready, cover the béchamel sauce with cling film to avoid it drying out.