It’s official! Winter has come, and I wish to ‘pound out’ those wonderful dishes I only make during winter. But, I couldn’t help myself and I made a lasagna and Moussaka instead 🙂
While making the Moussaka I realized that I hadn’t yet posted anything about béchamel sauce. I love a good béchamel sauce, it provides so much flavor to every dish. It can change your lasagna from an ordinary pumpkin to one driven by horses (Cinderella). And the more you cook the more often you’ll end up using this recipe!
Before diving into the moussaka recipe, I want you to close your eyes and imagine my last lasagna. (Yeah, I’ll post a recipe real soon!) I prepared a gorgeous lasagna, let the sauce simmer for a few hours, made a mind-blowing béchamel sauce, and popped it in the oven with no other thought. Twenty minutes later I began smelling smoke… I rushed to the oven to find see a huge flame barely piercing the butter-thick smoke that filled the oven. The flame grew as I opened the oven. I closed it and looked for my fire extinguisher, which I realized I hadn’t yet replaced (old one expired).
I peeked into the oven again and saw a small plate of butter. The plate had split in half and the butter slowly dripped onto the heating filament. I quickly slid on gloves and took out the butter. I shut the oven and hoped the fire would soon die down. And die down it did, but the smoke remained (both in the kitchen and the oven). With only ten minutes on the clock, until my guests arrived, I pulled the now cooked lasagna from the oven and opened every possible window.
I pulled the lasagna out of the oven and a thin sooty layer coated my wonderful béchamel sauce. With the speed of Quicksilver (or maybe Speedy Gonzalez), I set the table. Just as I set down the last fork, I heard a knock at the door. My guests entered, exchanged pleasantries, and then we sat down at the table. One or two sat with a perplexed look on their faces, no doubt at the subtle smell of smoke, and then they dived into the lasagna.
I slowly chewed my food waiting for their snarls of disgust and yet none came. They loved the lasagna. “How did you manage such a subtle smokey flavor?” They asked. “This is the best lasagna I think I’ve ever had!” Naturally, I didn’t tell them about the fire or the accident (I couldn’t even being to explain why there was a plate of butter in the oven — I mean, who puts butter on a plate in the oven?). I graciously accepted their complements and we continued chatting and enjoying the delicious food.
There are three lessons I’d like to share:
- Always check your oven before you turn it on.
- Make sure you have a fire extinguisher and that it’s in working condition.
- Know how to make a great béchamel sauce.
Don’t try that at home!
Whether you call it besciamella, béchamelsoße, or béchamel sauce your cooking days have officially begun! This recipe is so simple and appears in so many places that you’ll soon look back and wonder how you ever struggled to make it.
Let’s gather round our ingredients and get this guy going!
We’ll need 3 cups (700 ml) of whole milk, 7 tablespoons (100 grams) of butter, 12 tablespoons (100 grams) of flour, 1 tsp (5 grams) of salt, and 1 tsp (2.2 grams) of nutmeg. The exact quantities of these ingredients vary, in fact, I’ve often only used 80 grams of flour and the quantities of salt and nutmeg vary by taste.
Put a pot on the stove at a medium heat. Cut the butter into small cubes and put them into the pot. Let the butter melt.
Now, add the flour, a little at a time, and stir. You’ll see the flour clump up as if it was cookie dough on a cookie sheet.
We’re almost done!
Add the milk slowly. If you add it all at once then it will take a very long time to thicken. Add a little (maybe 1/8th of it) and stir. The mixture will slowly start to resemble what it was before you added the milk. As you stir, try to remove all the clumps from the béchamel sauce. Stir in the salt and nutmeg. While the flavor is really up to you, I always try to avoid adding too much nutmeg. If you add too much the sauce will look a little brown (kind of old). It will work just fine, but it will not please to the eye.
Once it thickens, add more milk. Stir, thicken, add, repeat!
Perfect! You just finished making béchamel sauce! Add it to a lasagna, moussaka, or whatever dish you’re about to make!
If you have any questions, or variations post below!