Before the French Revolution, creative chefs commonly dedicated their new recipes to members of the royal family or of the nobility.
This is what François Pierre de la Varenne did with one of his creations, a white roux sauce. As the chef of the Marquis of Uxelles, de la Varenne made the first Bechamel by perfecting an existing sauce. He dedicated his new sauce to Louis de Béchameil, Marquis of Nointel, and published its recipe for the first time in 1651, in Le Cuisinier François [The French Cook].
Being one of the five famous French “mother sauces”, Béchamel sauce can be used directly, or as a base for other sauces. Its numerous direct uses include lasagna, moussaka, Eggs Florentine, as the base for certain soups and pies, and as the accompanying sauce for eggs and fish. As a mother sauce, it is used to make, for example, Mornay sauce (a cheese sauce used with seafood and vegetables), Nantua sauce, Crème sauce, Mustard sauce, and Soubise sauce (used on roasted meats, game, poultry and vegetables).
Makes 1 Cup
- 2 Tablespoons butter
- 2 Tablespoons flour
- 1 cup scalded whole milk
If you want the sauce to be thicker, add 1 Tablespoon more of butter and flour. If you want the sauce to be thinner, just use 1 Tablespoon each of butter and flour.
In one pan heat the milk to scalding (which is 176°F to 180°F). Meanwhile, melt the butter in another sauce pan over medium heat, then add flour. Mix well (no lumps should be present). Wisk the scalded milk into the flour/butter mixture and continue cooking all ingredients for about 20 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat, add salt and pepper if desired and serve or set aside to add to your favorite recipes.