Creamy, Silky Béchamel Sauce: Lasagna's Best Friend
When I took a job working as a prep & line cook for Wolfgang Puck Catering company, I felt flung into a world that I had no business being in. I wasn't classically trained in French cooking techniques and had insecurity related to that. But, I'm a fast learner.
One of the things that you learn when you go to culinary school, as I've since learned, are the building blocks of cookery. In French Cooking one of those building blocks are the mother sauces. No, these aren't the sauces that tell you to clean your room and eat your vegetables.
They are called mother sauces because they gift birth to other sauces and dishes. The idea is that when you learn these mother sauces, they become the foundation of dozens (hundreds!) of sauces and dishes that you can then create from them.
Béchamel Sauce is essentially milk that has been thickened by a roux. And a roux is a thickener made from flour that has been cooked in butter.
Here's how easy the recipe is:
Cook the flour in the butter.
Heat the milk.
Add the hot milk into the flour mixture.
Whisk until smooth.
See! How easy was that?! You do all that and you'll have Béchamel Sauce! A creamy sauce that gives that nice balanced addition to layers of lasagna that offsets the richness of the red or meat sauce.
This portion of Béchamel is measured exactly for my lasagna recipe.
Béchamel Sauce Recipe
5 tablespoons butter, cubed 4 tablespoons flour 3 cups milk 2 teaspoons salt ½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
½ white pepper
1. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter.
2. Add the flour and stir until the consistency is smooth.
3. Cook until the mixture turns a light golden brown, about 5-6 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat the milk in a separate pan (or microwave) until it is just about to boil.
5. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture a little bit at a time, whisking continuously until smooth.
6. Cook the sauce for 1 minute until it begins to thicken.
7. Season with salt, nutmeg, and pepper.