Béchamel is a basic white sauce, one of the five mother sauces, that you can serve as is or use for making all sorts of other creamy, cheesy sauces.
- Serves: 8 persons
- 2 ½cups whole milk
- 30grams clarified butter (around 2 tablespoons, or 35 grams unsalted butter)
- 30grams all-purpose flour (around 1/3 cup)
- ¼onion (peeled)
- 2to 3 whole cloves
- 1fresh bay leaf
- Kosher salt (to taste)
- Ground white pepper (to taste)
- 1pinch ground nutmeg
Step 1Gather the ingredients.
Step 2In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, warm the milk over medium heat, stirring occasionally. You just want it to be warm (around 110 F), not hot, and certainly not boiling.
Step 3Meanwhile, in a separate heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.
Step 4With a wooden spoon, stir the flour into the melted butter a little bit at a time, until it is fully incorporated into the butter, giving you a pale yellow-colored paste called a roux . Heat the roux for another minute or so to cook off the taste of raw flour. As with the milk, you don't want the roux to be too hot. It should be moderately warm but not cold, either.
Step 5Using a wire whisk, very slowly add the warm milk to the roux, whisking vigorously to make sure it's free of lumps.
Step 6Attach the bay leaf to the onion using the cloves and add them to the sauce.
Step 7Simmer between 180 and 205 F for about 20 minutes or until the total volume has reduced by about 20 percent, stirring frequently to make sure the sauce doesn't scorch at the bottom of the pan. The resulting sauce should be smooth and velvety. If it's too thick, whisk in a bit more milk until it's just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.
Step 8Remove the sauce from the heat. You can retrieve the clove-stuck onion and bay leaf and discard them now. Carefully pour the sauce through a wire mesh strainer. For an extra smooth consistency, line the strainer with a piece of cheesecloth.
Step 9Season the sauce very lightly with salt and white pepper. Add a pinch of nutmeg. Be particularly careful with the white pepper and the nutmeg—a little bit goes a long way.
Step 10Keep the béchamel covered until you're ready to use it.
Step 11Serve and enjoy.