|Alternative names||White sauce|
|Place of origin||France
|Region or state||Florence, Tuscany
|Main ingredients||Butter, flour, milk, nutmeg|
|Cookbook:Béchamel sauce Béchamel sauce|
Béchamel sauce (Italian: Besciamella, French: Béchamelle, // or //; French: [beʃaˈmɛl]), also known as white sauce, is made from a roux (butter and flour) and milk. It is one of the mother sauces of French cuisine and Italian cuisine. It is used as the base for other sauces (such as Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with cheese).
The Béchamel sauce was used for centuries in Tuscan and Emilian cuisine and was imported into France by the chefs of Marie de' Medici, the second wife of King Henry IV of France. Then the sauce became a main ingredient of the French Court's cuisine and was easily renamed from its original Italian name of "Balsamella" after the marquis de Béchamel. Béchamel was a financier who held the honorary post of chief steward to Louis XIV. The sauce under its familiar name first appeared in Le Cuisinier François, published in 1651 by François Pierre La Varenne (1615–1678), chef de cuisine to Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d'Uxelles. The foundation of French cuisine, the Cuisinier François ran through some thirty editions in seventy-five years.
Béchamel is traditionally made by melting a quantity of butter, and adding an equal part of flour to make a roux, which is cooked under gentle heat while stirring with a whisk. As it is a white sauce, care must be taken not to brown the roux. Then heated milk is gradually whisked in, and the sauce is cooked until thickened and smooth. The proportion of roux and milk determines the thickness of the sauce, typically one to three tablespoons each of flour and butter per cup of milk. One tablespoon each of butter and flour per cup of milk makes a thin, easily pourable sauce. Two tablespoons of each makes a medium thick sauce. Three tablespoons of each makes an extra thick sauce, such as used to fill croquettes or as a soufflé base. Salt and white pepper are added and it is customary in Italy to add a pinch of nutmeg. Optionally a whole or cut onion, studded with one or more whole cloves, and a bay leaf may be simmered with the milk and then strained before adding to the roux.
Béchamel sauce is the base for a number of other classic sauces with additional ingredients added including:
- Mornay sauce (cheese)
- Nantua sauce (crayfish, butter and cream)
- Crème sauce (heavy cream)
- Mustard sauce (prepared mustard seed)
- Soubise sauce (finely diced onions that have been sweated in butter)
- Cheddar cheese sauce (Cheddar cheese, dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce)
The term "white sauce" or sauce blanche may also be applied to a simple sauce consisting only of milk and melted butter, without flour or spices.
Dishes made with béchamel sauce include:
- Cauliflower cheese
- Croque Monsieur (some variations)
- Fisherman's Pie
- Parmo, a type of escalop originating in Middlesbrough, that is popular in North East England.
- Moussaka and pastitsio, layered dishes found in Greece and throughout the Balkans and Middle East
- Veal Orlov
- "Béchamel definition". Merriam-Webster.
- Stradley, Linda. "Sauces - History of Sauces". What's Cooking America. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
- Larousse Gastronomique
- Saulnier, Louis (1914). Le Répertoire de la Cuisine. Translated by Édouard Brunet. Leon Jaeggi & Sons. Retrieved 2010-11-28.
- How to Make Easy Béchamel Sauce Recipe Retrieved 3 January 2014.
- "French Cooking Sauces". Retrieved 15 November 2013.
- History and legends of Béchamel sauce
- Free Culinary School Podcast Episode 10 An educational podcast episode that talks about the classical French technique used for making Sauce Béchamel and a few secondary sauces including Mornay, Basic Cream, Cheddar Cheese and Mustard Sauce.
- "Bechamel". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.