Béchamel sauce

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Béchamel sauce
Béchamel sauce.jpg
Milk infusing with bay leaf, peppercorns, shallot and flat-leaf parsley prior to being added to the roux
Alternative namesWhite sauce
Place of originItaly
Region or stateTuscany, Emilia-Romagna
Main ingredientsButter, flour, milk
VariationsMornay sauce

Béchamel sauce (/ˌbʃəˈmɛl/;[1] French: [beʃamɛl], Italian: besciamella [beʃʃaˈmɛlla]), also known as white sauce, is made from a white roux (butter and flour) and milk. It has been considered, since the seventeenth century,[2][3] one of the mother sauces of French cuisine.[4] It is used as the base for other sauces (such as Mornay sauce, which is Béchamel with cheese).[5]


Balsamella[6] or Besciamella is the Italian equivalent of the French Béchamel: a very simple white sauce of flour, butter and milk. The sauce was originally from Renaissance Tuscany and was known as "Salsa Colla or Colletta" ("glue sauce") because of the gluey consistency of the sauce, and was brought to France by the chefs of Caterina de' Medici in 1533. Louis de Béchamel, Marquis de Nointel,[7] was a financier who held the honorary post of chief steward to King Louis XIV. This sauce was prominent in Italian cooking texts of the Renaissance as "salsa colla", but was renamed much later 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.

The sauce originally was a veal velouté, with a large amount of cream added.[8]

A recipe published in 1749 gave a modern and a traditional version of béchamel. The traditional one was made by melting butter in a pan, and then frying the peels of onions and root vegetables, green onions, and parsley in it; after cooking, cream was added, along with salt, coarse ground black pepper, and nutmeg. This was boiled, strained, and served with extra butter. The more modern recipe was to fry minced shallot, parsley, and green onion in butter, adding cream, salt, coarse ground black pepper, and nutmeg, as before, but then to add additional parsley and serve without straining.[9] A 1750 recipe for turbot involved cooking the fish in broth, cooling it, and then reheating it in béchamel immediately before serving.[3]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Béchamel definition". Merriam-Webster.
  2. ^ François Marin, Les Dons de Comus, ou les Délices de la table, préface par les PP. Pierre Brumoy et G. H. Bougeant, Paris : Prault Fils, 1739, pp. 103 et seq.
  3. ^ a b M.C.D. Chef de Cuisine de M. le Prince de *** [i.e. Briand], Dictionnaire des alimens, vins et liqueurs, leurs qualités, leurs effets... avec la manière de les apprêter ancienne et moderne..., Paris : Gissey, 1750, 576 p., p. 34 et seq.
  4. ^ Michael Ruhlman, The Elements of Cooking: Translating the Chef's Translating the Chef's Craft for Every Kitchen, New York : Scribner, 2007, p. 171.
  5. ^ Delmy Dauenhauer, 10 Ways to Use Béchamel Sauce, London : SamEnrico, 2015, ISBN 9781505738384.
  6. ^ Pellegrino Artusi (2001) [1891]. La Scienza in Cucina E L'arte Di Mangiar Bene (in Italian). Torino: Einaudi. p. 137 (recipe). ISBN 8806158856.
  7. ^ G. Dryansky, J. Dryansky - Coquilles, Calva, and Crème: Exploring France's Culinary Heritage: A Love Affair with French Food (search page) Open Road Media, 5 June 2012 Accessed November 21st. 2017
  8. ^ Larousse Gastronomique.
  9. ^ Menon (17-17 ; écrivain culinaire) (1749). La science du maître d'hôtel cuisinier , avec des observations sur la connaissance & propriétés des alimens (in French). Paulus-Du-Mesnil (Paris). p. 535.

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