The origins of besciamella sauce are debated between France (bechamel) and Italy. I don’t feel there is the need to claim it as Italian, although it is indeed the base of every lasagna recipe, and baked pasta as well ;)
This is a base recipe, it is used in the preparation of many other recipes so I believe it is better if it has its own post.
Here is how I make it… in the microwave :)
You can use a pot and stir and have fun while you do your best to avoid lumps… me: I go with the microwaved version :P The taste is just the same, minus the hassle. <Update 11-11-2012: No more microwave in my life and I learned how to make besciamella with no lumps even on the stove. It’s super easy, so here I will give you the instructions for both techniques.>
The following ingredients make 2 cups (500 ml) of sauce, enough for 4 portions of lasagna, or baked pasta.
- 4 tbs butter (60 gr)
- 6 tbs flour (50 gr)
- 2 cups milk (500 ml)
- 1/2 tsp salt
- nutmeg to taste
Directions for Besciamella (Bechamel) in the microwave
To make besciamella, bechamel, you need a pyrex pitcher, or a microwave safe container with a handle so you won’t burn when handling it later. Also a whisk is the best utensil to stir bechamel.
Cut the butter in chunks and melt in the microwave for 1 minute.
Add the flour and stir until well combined. Heat the mixture for 20 seconds in the microwave.
Stir in the milk a little at a time to avoid the formation of lumps.
You are almost done! Would you believe it is this simple?! Proceed by microwaving and stirring, microwaving and stirring until it reaches the correct density. Start by microwaving for 2 minutes. Then stir. Now microwave for 1 minute each time and then stir. This process should be repeated about 4 or 5 times for the besciamella to get to the right consistency. Besciamella should not be too runny, but it shouldn’t be very thick either.
Add salt and nutmeg to taste. DONE!
Don’t try to rush things! If you microwave for more than one minute without mixing, lumps will form and they will be hard to get rid of!!
Directions for Besciamella (Bechamel) on the stove
Besciamella, bechamel sauce tends to make lumps, this is a fact. But lumps are avoidable, follow these directions carefully and you will obtain a silky, tasty bechamel :) Don’t rush, take your time and do it properly, it is so rewarding when it turnes out perfect! And remember: use a whisk, not a spoon!
Melt the butter in a sauce pan, at medium temperature.
Remove from the heat, add the flour and stir until it’s a cream. Little by little add the milk stirring continuously to avoid the formation of lumps. Add the salt and stir. Bring back to the heat (medium to medium-high), and bring to a boil stirring all the time!
If you don’t stir, the flour will form a layer on the bottom of the pan and you will get lumps! Remove from the heat when it reaches the right consistency, it should be a lot thicker than when you first mixed in the milk but still runny.
Finally add a pinch of nutmeg.
Since you must stir until it becomes thicker/starts to boil, I would highly suggest you to use milk at room temperature. You see, it takes a lot less time to bring to a boil something at room temperature rather than something cold. If you store your milk in the fridge warm it up on the stove before adding it to the butter and flour mixture, don’t boil it, just warm it.
What can you do with the besciamella sauce? More recipes will come very soon…