Besciamella (Bechamel ) is a basic savory sauce of French origin, prepared with butter, flour and milk: white, creamy, enveloping, with a neutral and delicate taste; it has become part of the Italian culinary tradition for a very long time now; where it is also called mother sauce, precisely because with Besciamella you can prepare many other sauces as well as give an extra gear to many dishes : from Baked Pasta, Lasagna, Cannelloni to Crepes and Crespelle, Vegetables au gratin, Moussaka.
Simple and fast, there is no easier preparation than homemade Béchamel!
- 500 ml (2 cups) of milk
- 50 g (1,7 ounce or ¼ cup) of unsalted butter
- 50 g (1,7 ounce or 4 tablespoons) of all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of fine salt
- freshly grated nutmeg
- Parmigiano reggiano cheese (optional)
WHITE SAUCE RATIO: the ingredients for this recipe are for 500 ml (2 ½ cup) of Bechamel sauce. If you need 1 liter (5 cups) of bechamel, doubled the ingredients. If you want a more liquid béchamel sauce, reduce the flour and the butter. For example 30 g (1 ounce or 2 ½ tablespoons) of flour and 30 g (1 ounce or 2 tablespoons) of butter.
IMPORTANT: the fat part (the butter) and the flour must have ALWAYS the same weight.
Step 1) – Get ready with all the ingredients. Then in a saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Now add the flour, better if you use a flour sieve, in this way you are sure that no lumps are formed. Mix quickly (but very quickly) with a whisk. Stir until the mixture is smooth and without lumps.
This is the time when you have to be more careful. Cook for 30 sec/1 min so the flour becomes tastier and absorb the butter fats. The mixture of butter and flour is called roux and it should be a nice golden color; you can even use it to thicken other sauces or gravy! Now set aside and let it cool.
Step 2) – Meanwhile heat the milk, without bringing to a boil. Pour the milk slowly over the roux, while stirring vigorously with a whisk to prevent the formation of lumps.
When the milk is completely poured over the roux sauce, put the saucepan back on low heat. Keep mixing constantly, until you have a fairly thick consistency (about 10/15 minutes). The sauce is ready when it sticks to the back of a wooden spoon.
Step 3) – Add a pinch of fine salt and grated nutmeg to taste. For an even richer flavor, add a little Parmigiano reggiano cheese (optional). Italian béchamel sauce is ready to use.
How to Store Bechamel Sauce
You can make Bechamel ahead of time. So once cold, it can be kept in the refrigerator, closed in an airtight container, for a maximum of 2-3 days.
The best thing to do is to transfer the bechamel into a bowl and cover it with cling film that is in contact with the sauce (otherwise a denser layer will form on the surface). If this happens, remove it before serving. In fact, if you break it and mix it with the rest of the white sauce, you’ll have many small clumps of clotted bechamel!
Béchamel sauce can be frozen and kept in the freezer for about 1 month.
How to Reheat Béchamel Sauce
If necessary, you can reheat the white sauce in a saucepan over low heat: it’ll return smooth and creamy just working it with the whips of an electric mixer; you can add a little milk to make it more fluid.
Italian Béchamel Sauce Consistency
With this recipe you get an average density. If you prefer a more liquid bechamel, decrease the dose of butter and flour; for a thicker béchamel instead, increase the dose of butter and flour. If lumps form in the béchamel sauce just filter it with a colander.
Summing Up: for 500 ml (2 cups) of milk
runny bechamel: 30 g (1 oz) of flour + 30 g (1 oz) of butter
classic bechamel: 50 g (1,7 oz) of flour + 50 g (1,7 oz) of butter
thick bechamel: 70 g (2,40 oz) of flour + 70 g (2,40 oz) of butter