Bechamel

Did you know that you can freeze bechamel (also known by the not-very-fancy name "white sauce")?  This is handy to know if you make too much and don't want to throw it out, or you may like the idea of keeping some in the freezer for future bechamel needs.

Bechamel can be used in many dishes:

  • lasagne
  • moussaka
  • pasta dishes such as macaroni cheese 
  • tuna pasta bake (also called tuna mornay)
  • over cooked vegetables in a gratin (cauliflower gratin is a classic retro side dish where cooked cauliflower is smothered in bechamel and baked)
  • as the basis of a pie filling (eg chicken and other ingredients for flavour)
  • pour over filled crepes then bake/grill
  • add grated cheese to the hot bechamel to make a cheese sauce to pour over various meats or vegetables


Bechamel


Sauce Béchamel
picture source: www.cuisine.journaldesfemmes.com

The recipe for Bechamel is pretty straight forward as the ratios of ingredients are easy as you can see below:

for a small amount of bechamel:
30g butter
30g flour
300ml milk

for a larger amount of bechamel:
50g butter
50g flour
500ml milk

then add: 
salt
white pepper (not black pepper)
ground nutmeg (optional)

You can make any quantity of bechamel, just use the three ingredients in the same ratio as above.  Some people prefer a runnier sauce, in which case add more milk, but I like the classic proportions here.

If you need some basic instructions, here goes ...


  • Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Add the flour and stir it into the butter with a wooden spoon and cook for about 2-3 minutes.  I normally heat the milk in the microwave while the flour is cooking.
  • Use warm milk, rather than cold milk, and make sure you mix it in with a whisk rather than a wooden spoon.  Add some of the milk (about one quarter of it) and whisk it into the butter and flour.  Gradually add more milk, whisking as you go, until all the milk is mixed in.
  • Continue to cook over medium heat until it comes to a simmer, stirring regularly with the whisk. Allow to simmer for about 5 minutes then remove from heat and add salt, pepper and nutmeg (if using).
  • You can add some grated cheese now if you want a cheese sauce.


To freeze: Spoon the bechamel into suitable-size plastic containers and allow to cool completely then place in the freezer.

To defrost: defrost slowly in the fridge or on the kitchen bench.  Not suitable for the microwave

Reheat: Reheat slowly in a saucepan, whisking constantly.  You may need to add a little more milk if it's too thick.