Salsa Baslamella, or Béchamel Sauce: In Other Words, White Sauce

Pellegrino Artusi says a good béchamel sauce and a properly cooked meat sauce are the principal secrets of refined cooking. And he’s right; while a good béchamel sauce may not seem like much — it doesn’t have much flavor, after all — it adds a rich rather voluptuous creaminess to a dish without changing the flavor cast established by the other ingredients. In short, many dishes wouldn’t be quite the same without it.

You’ll need:

  • Flour
  • Unsalted butter
  • Milk
  • Salt
  • Nutmeg (optional)

Artusi has you begin by lightly browning a heaping tablespoon of flour in a chunk of unsalted butter the size of a walnut, and then has you slowly stir in 2 cups of the best milk, and keep stirring until the mixture appears to be a milk-like cream. He goes on to say, “If it comes out too stiff, add more milk; should it be too liquid return it to the fire and add another piece of butter rolled in flour. This recipe makes a substantial amount, but you can vary the quantities according to your needs.”

While Artusi’s instructions work (quite well) the process isn’t quite as easy as he suggests, at least not on the first attempt. Once you’ve heated the butter and flour, add the milk very slowly, while stirring briskly.

The flour will bubble and expand; stir vigorously to keep lumps from forming. Should they form anyway, reduce the flow of milk to a trickle until you’ve stirred them out.

Once you’ve added all the milk, stir the sauce slowly over a moderate flame until it thickens. Depending upon what you plan to use it for, you may wish to season it with salt and pepper to taste, and perhaps a pinch of nutmeg.

Making béchamel sauce in a microwave oven is much easier and faster than making it over the stove.

Melt the butter and stir in the flour, then stir in the milk and, if you wish, salt and pepper. Heat the sauce on high power for 1 minute and stir it briskly till most of the lumps are gone. Heat it for five more minutes at medium power, stirring every minute or so.

Check Seasoning, let it sit for a couple of minutes, and it’s ready.


Tags: , ,

Categories: Sauces, and Preparations, some of which go into other dishes

Author:Cosa Bolle in Pentola

Italy boasts an astonishing number of varietals, denominations, and wines, and tremendous changes are sweeping the land. New wines are being created, new DOCs are being introduced, and the existing denominations are overhauling their regulations both to reflect the practices adopted by their member wineries and to favor improvements in quality. Even the most staid and stolid region can flower seemingly overnight, emerging with exciting new wines and wineries that require rewriting the enological maps and rethinking one's positions. And, of course, recipes too, because cuisine and wine are closely intertwined and it's difficult to imagine one without the other.


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