Béchamel Sauce

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Credit: Lidia Bastianich
Makes about 2 cups
Originally from April 2013 on my old blog

Second time is the charm, in this case. As some of you may know, the last time I made Béchamel, it crashed and burned. Literally. The bottom of the pan was black. Well, I tried again, using a different recipe, and it was a breeze! No problems whatsoever.

Bechamel sauce is a traditional French white sauce made with whole milk, butter, flour, and some seasonings. You can add cheese at the end, but you don’t have to. Bechamel is often used in a lasagna recipes, making a creamy, rich layer.

I used double this recipe (except don’t double the bay leaf!) to make my Spinach Pasta Lasagna with Bolognese and Bechamel (which I’ll be posting next).

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly ground white or black pepper
  • pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (or pre-ground)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 generous tablespoons grated Parmesan

Pour the milk into a saucepan, add all the seasonings and bay leaf, and bring to almost to a boil. Keep hot.

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. When the butter starts foaming, dump in the flour and whisk to make a smooth paste (roux). Keep whisking and cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, or until the roux darkens slightly. Pour in the hot milk in a stream, stirring to incorporate the roux into it. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sauce begins to boil. Adjust the heat to keep a steady bubbling simmer until the sauce thickens, about 3 to 5 minutes.

Pour the sauce through a fine sieve into a bowl, and whisk in the grated cheese. Cover with plastic wrap, pressed right onto the surface of the sauce, (so that a skin doesn’t form over top) and let it cool.

The sauce can remain at room temperature for a few hours, or it can be refrigerated in the bowl with the plastic wrap for 3 or 4 days.

Happy dining!!

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