Ingredients (for 1 litre) Making béchamel sauce
- 60 g butter
- 60 g flour
- 1 litre milk, divided
- Pinch grated nutmeg
- 100 ml crème fraîche or thick cream (optional)
- Salt, freshly ground pepper, to taste
- Make a white roux with the butter and flour. Add half a litre of milk and the grated nutmeg.
- Bring the mixture to boil over high heat, whisking constantly.
- Pour in the remaining milk, bring to the simmer again, and season. Check the consistency, which should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon (see pic below). Stir in the cream, if using.
- Transfer to a bowl and cover with plastic wrap flush with the surface. This will prevent a film from forming.
- Use a whisk to prepare your sauce to prevent lumps from forming.
- Traditionally, a béchamel is seasoned with fine salt, white pepper, and nutmeg. If you wish, replace the nutmeg with other spices like four-spice powder (pepper, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger), paprika, or old-fashioned French mustard with seeds. This sauce comes to us from Marquis Louis de Béchameil, mâitre d’hôtel to King Louis XIV.
- Mornay (egg yolk and grated Emmental cheese), half-milk and half-cream (very creamy béchamel), soubise (softened onions and béchamel sauce), Scottish sauce (light béchamel with chopped hard-boiled eggs).
French Cooking: Classic Recipes and Techniques
’French Cooking: Classic Recipes and Techniques’ by Vincent Boué and Hubert Delorme, with a foreword by Paul Bocuse and photographs by Clay McLachlan, is published by Flammarion at £29.95. Buy your copy at a discount from the Saga Bookshop.