Béchamel is a super simple sauce used for many French dishes. Wait… it is super easy if you know a few ultra simple little tricks. If you don’t and you follow a random recipe, you will fail most of the time. This is where a French mum comes in handy :)
“Unsaid cooking tricks” is one of the things that pushed me to start this blog and my cooking classes in Sydney. The women of my family have spent hours teaching me little things, never written in the recipes which you cannot really guess by yourself and without which your cooking is going to be disastrous.
This super easy béchamel recipe will teach you two pretty dumb and simple but essential tricks:
1) You will use hot milk to dilute the roux (mix of flour and melted butter in a hot pan). Roux is pronounced roo :)
2) When you will dilute the roux with hot milk, you will do that very slowly with a silicon spatula and not a whisk. The paste that is the roux will immediately separate and create terrible lumps if you pour too much milk at once. If you pour very hot milk little by little, pressing down your supple silicon spatula (a bit of a tongue twister :) on the paste against the bottom of you pan, you will limit the risk of making lumps. It’s great!
If you know that, it’s an ultra easy recipe.
All you need is good flour, creamy milk, some nutty butter, flavoursome cracked black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg.
You can also make the recipe with more simple ingredients (no frills flour, butter and milk) the difference will be subtle but if you like nice food you know that the best ingredients make the nicest dishes.
You will simply melt the butter, throw the flour in, and press with your spatula to cook the flour and dry your roux (the mix of flour and hot butter).
Then you will pour, very slowly your hot milk (microwaved to be quick) and press it down with your spatula. If you are slow enough and you press the ingredient well and non-stop, you will end up with a creamy béchamel sauce.
At the end of the cooking process, if you want, you can grab a whisk and smooth the sauce with a few energetic turns adding the seasoning.
Then it’s finished and voilà!
All you need to do is to pour this sauce over blanched veggies (boiled for a few minutes) such as kohlrabi, potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, etc. Sprinkle a bit of grated cheese on top if you want a golden treat.
It is also the ideal sauce for lasagne, mac & cheese and moussaka.
A last info: the amount of milk needed will vary according to the quality of you flour. Some flours will need more milk because their thickening power is higher.
- 40 g flour
- 30 g butter
- 500 g milk
- salt & pepper
- a bit of freshly grated nutmeg
- Heat the milk in a pan or microwave until moiling point (or very hot).
- Tip the butter in a pan over medium hot stove.
- When the butter has melted, tip the flour in one go. With a supple silicon spatula press the paste down and in doing so, get rid of the little lumps of flour. Keep on doing that for 3 or 4 minutes to make sure the flour is well cooked. This is called a "roux" (pronounced roo)
- VERY SLOWLY pour a TINY BIT of milk over the roux, press your spatula down to homogenize milk and roux in a paste. Continue pouring the milk bit by bit, slowly. Once the mix forms a nice paste, pour more milk, press it down with your spatula, and once it is a paste again, pour more milk, etc.
- Once the milk is all poured, add salt and pepper and grate nutmeg to taste. Voilà !