If you want to be better at cooking, homemade bechamel sauce is a real “must have”. This sauce is so versatile that a large number of recipes include it, not only in Italian cuisine. Just think of Greek moussaka!
In Italy besciamella (our name for it) is very easy to find this basic ingredient in any supermarket, but:
- I am not sure it is the same everywhere
- the taste is so much better if you prepare it at home
- it is such a quick preparation
that I decided to share with you my family recipe.
The origin of bechamel sauce
Bechamel sauce is a preparation whose birth is disputed between Italy and France.
According to the French version, the sauce was created by and named after the Marquis Louis de Bechamel. He is supposed to be the first, during XVII century, to use it in his recipes.
On this side of the Alps, Tuscany seems to be the place where besciamella was born. The original name was “glue sauce”, since it was used to combine different ingredients. Eventually, this sauce was introduced into French cuisine by Caterina de Medici, when she become Queen of France (in the XVI century).
The first appearance of sauce à la béchamel in written form is in the recipe book “Le cuisinier”, dated 1651.
Some ideas with this sauce!
If you are preparing some homemade bechamel sauce and you are in Bologna, it’s most likely that you are preparing lasagne (yes, in Bologna, we say lasagne, not lasagna… it is plural!).
Another great idea is to transform a basic pasta into a super delicious pasta al forno. Just put some pasta al dente (with bolognese sauce is perfect) in a deep baking dish, pour some bechamel sauce and grate some Parmigiano Reggiano on top and grill it in the oven. The resulting crust will be a delicious thing!
Another great idea is to prepare pasta (we typically use farfalle for this recipe) with besciamella and salmon.
And finally, you can make a dish of vegetables (cauliflowers, zucchini, potatoes, …) become a delicacy. Just can stir-fry them but leave them crunchy, then use the same procedure adopted for pasta al forno. Vegetables in the oven with bechamel and Parmigiano Reggiano to make a crust on top… trust me, your children will love them! 🙂
If you are using it in other ways… just leave me a comment, so we can all take advantage from it!
Homemade bechamel sauce
- a pot
- a whisk
- 500 ml milk
- 50 gr butter
- 50 gr all purpose flour
- q.s. salt (optional)
- q.s. nutmeg (optional)
- Prepare the ingredients, at ambient temperature.
- In a pot, over very low heat, melt together the butter and the flour, until you get a golden cream (called "roux", with a French word). Then, add really slowly the milk, always whisking. When it's done (optional) use salt and nutmeg to add taste.
- butter and flour always come in the same quantities. Thickness of the sauce is influenced by the amount of milk and duration of cooking
- you can be really quick, but I suggest not to cook it for less than 15 minutes.. The risk, otherwise, is to be able to taste the flour in the final result
- always use a whisk for better result, and heat at minimum level