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How to make Bechamel Sauce

This week I thought I would continue to tackle the problem of sauces, namely Bechamel Sauce.

Traditionally Bechamel Sauce was made with 200gm of roux (this is the butter and flour which thickens the sauce). However, this produced a very heavy and thick Bechamel Sauce. By reducing the roux, a lighter, fresher Bechamel Sauce is produced and is less at risk from burning. This recipe produces such a Bechamel Sauce that has a good coating / nappé consistency.

The original Sauce Béchamel was a slow simmering of milk, veal stock and seasonings, which was strained and then enriched with cream. The sauce under its familiar Béchamel name first appeared in Le Cuisinier François (1651) written by François Pierre La Varenne who was chef de cuisine to Nicolas Chalon du Blé, the Marquis d' Uxelles. Béchamel Sauce was named after a courtier by the name of Louis de Béchameil who was the Marquis de Nointel, who is sometimes mistakenly credited with having invented it. It was in fact named after him as a form of flattery.

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Ingredients for Bechamel Sauce

small peeled onion

How to make Bechamel Sauce

  • Make a cut in the onion and push the bayleaf into it, also press the cloves into the onion
  • Bring milk to blood temperature with the studded onion and allow to infuse for 10 minutes, remove the onion and discard
  • Melt the butter in a thick bottom pan, add flour and mix in
  • Cook over a low heat for 5 minutes to a white roux (no additional colour)
  • Gradually add the warmed strained milk and stir until smooth
  • Allow to simmer for 30 minutes
  • Pass the sauce through a fine strainer into a clean pan, re-boil and correct the seasoning and consistency
  • If not needed immediately, cover with a piece of buttered greaseproof paper (this is called a cartouche) or a thin film of butter
  • Place in a larger saucepan 1/3 filled with water, keeping that water at a gentle simmer (known s a bain marie)

Chef's Tip for Bechamel Sauce

Consistency may be corrected by adding cream or milk to thin the Bechamel Sauce. The Bechamel Sauce may be used as is or changed by adding other ingredients; the name Bechamel Sauce then changes, examples are:

Anchovy Sauce 2 tbs anchovy essence or chopped anchovy fillets
Chive Sauce 4 tbs of chopped chives
Cream Sauce 150 ml fresh cream
Egg Sauce 3 - 4 hard boiled eggs pushed through a chinois
Mornay Sauce 100 gm grated cheddar
Mustard Sauce Diluted English mustard to taste
Onion Sauce 200 gm onion brunoise added to roux
Parsley Sauce 2 tbs of chopped parsley
Thermidor Sauce Mornay with 2 tbsp of mild English mustard

Chef's terminology:

litres   tsp = teaspoon
millelitres   tbs = tablespoon
kilograms   sq = sufficient quantity (add to taste)
grams   pc = piece, meaning a whole one of

Enjoy your Bechamel Sauce and bon appetit . . . . .

Recipe from professional
Chef Tallyrand

28 August 2000