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There bechamel, or béchamel sauce, is a sauce of French origin but also very widespread in England (where it is also known as white sauce or white sauce) and obviously in Italian cuisine, especially in the tradition of Emilia Romagna, where it is one of the secrets for preparation of the classic lasagna Bolognese, while more generally it can be used both as seasoning and as an accompaniment to dishes such as timbale, cannelloni, baked pasta in many variations including vegetarians, crepes, pasta with four cheeses, and more vegetables go to the oven or meat main courses.
It is in fact one basic sauce, also used for more elaborate compositions, which can be prepared at home quickly and easily by following the classic recipe, which requires the use of few ingredients and a total cooking time of just 10 minutes. To make the bechamel in a way perfect you just have to follow the procedures carefully and do a little practice to get one soft, homogeneous and tasty sauce: I assure you that the time spent cooking this sauce is rewarded by its flavor, because the homemade bechamel it is immediately recognizable and it is a whole other story than the prepackaged ones that are sold in stores!
As mentioned, preparing the bechamel at home is really simple: how ingredients serve flour, milk, butter and a pinch of nutmeg, while the doses they depend on the dishes in which we want to use the sauce and obviously on the number of diners: mine is a classic recipe for 4 people, but just make the proportions to move completely independently! The process starts with the creation of a white roux, which is a basic compound, using butter, flour and milk brought to a boil so that the sauce thickens, then adding a little salt and nutmeg.
The final density of the béchamel depends on some factors, starting with the proportion of butter and flour present in the roux and the cooking time some sauce; in general, it is preferable to obtain a thick consistency if we use bechamel in fillings, while the semi-liquid one is more suitable for dressings. In any case, for a more liquid sauce it is sufficient to reduce the doses of butter and flour, while to increase the density it is necessary to add more of these ingredients. If during the preparation we realize that the compound has some lumpsthen, it is sufficient to filter the béchamel with a colander to remedy the problem.
Among the various bechamel recipes, there are those who also add egg yolks to the mixture, which gives a different thickness to the final result, while at the opposite extreme there is the vegan bechamel, in which butter can be replaced by olive or seed oil and milk replaced by any vegetable milk (for example, I use soy milk).
Before taking a closer look at the classic recipe for making bechamel at home in fast and easy way, a little curiosity about the name and origins of the white sauce: according to some studies, the term appeared for the first time in an Italian cookbook during the fifteenth century, and only later did it reach the French Court, thanks to Caterina de 'Medici and François Pierre de La Varenne, chef of the Marquis d'Uxelles who wrote the text Le cuisinier français (published in 1651) which is considered fundamental for the gastronomic tradition of the Alps. For the name, however, over the years the compound has gone from being identified as "glue sauce" to "balsamella" (the term used by the great Pellegrino Artusi, which however did not use spices to prepare its specialty) until the current version.
Enjoy your meal!
Melt the butter over low heat. When it melts completely, slowly add the flour.
Then form a roux, a uniform mixture, mixing and mixing everything.
Dilute the mixture with the previously heated milk, adding it slowly and stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
Stir until the sauce thickens. Then add salt and a grated nutmeg and let the béchamel cook until boiling.
Once it has boiled, let it cook to the desired consistency. As mentioned, generally the consistency of the béchamel must be thick for the fillings or semi-liquid for the condiments.
If the sauce is not used immediately (or if a few portions are left over), it is possible to put the béchamel in a bowl covered with transparent film in contact, which avoids the formation of the skin on the surface, and let it cool: then move the mixture in an airtight container and place it in the refrigerator, where it resists for about 3 days, or in the freezer (frozen lasts about 1 month). To take it back and make it creamy again, simply mix the sauce again with an electric mixer, possibly adding milk to make it more fluid.