Besamel Sauce


Besamel Sauce

How to add richness without over indulging on calories.
Besamel is much like our American white sauce.

When I think healthy balanced lifestyle adding flavor and richness becomes even more important.

I never want to be on a diet.

Besamel gives me the option of rich in a tablespoon or so.

Last night over the top of our fresh tortellini in Bolognese sauce there was just a touch of Besamel Sauce; approximately 2 teaspoons. WOW!  I was in heaven and instantly inspired.

I learned quickly the Europeans use this sauce to add flavor notes to foods, much like one would layer a cake.

Adding lemon, egg yolks (for a hollandaise style sauce), replace half the milk with greek yogurt for lamb dishes, it can be sweetened with honey and Besamel has several rich cousins as well.

The sauces were ever popular through out Europe and told of the “richness’ of life.  They were often thought to be immoral, too rich, too much.

I found today that Trader Joe’s is carrying peanut flour and more inspiration hit.

According to Larousse Gastronomique, the sauce is named after the “marquis de Béchamel”, actually Louis de Béchameil, marquis de Nointel (1630–1703). According to Larousse the sauce is an improvement upon a similar, earlier sauce, known as velouté. Béchameil was a financier who held the honorary post of chief steward to Louis XIV. The sauce under its familiar name first appeared in Le Cuisinier François, (published in 1651), by François Pierre La Varenne (1615–1678), chef de cuisine to Nicolas Chalon du Blé, marquis d’Uxelles. The foundation of French cuisine, the Cuisinier François ran through some thirty editions in seventy-five years.
There are five foundation sauces or basic sauces, called in French grandes sauces or sayces meres. Two of them have a record of two hundred years behind them; they are the “bechamelle” and the “mayonnaise”. They have lasted so long, not only because they are very good, but also because they are so adaptable and provide a fine basis for a considerable number of other sauces.
The other three, which also date back to the 18th century, are the “veloute,” the “brune,” and the “blonde.” These five sauces still provide the basis for making of many modern sauces, but no longer of most of them.  

Modern sauces may be divided into two classes: the “Careme” and “Escoffier” classes. Among the faithful, in the great kitchen of the world, Escoffier is to Careme what the New Testament is to the Old. See “Mother Sauces” for descriptions of the five basic sauces.

Besamel Sauce

Without added enhancements, the recipe here is Besamel at its most basic. Two cups of white sauce is enough to cover 6 servings of a simple vegetable dish. Two to 4 cups (1 or 2 batches) is enough to cover 1 recipe of moussaka or pastitsio, depending on how thick you want the white-sauce topping.


* 3 tablespoons butter
* 3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour
* 1½ cups milk
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* Generous pinch of nutmeg, preferably freshly grated


1. Melt the butter in a medium-size saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the flour, whisk until the mixture is smooth, and reduce the heat to medium. Cook, stirring, until the mixture begins to turn golden, 2 minutes.

2. Whisk in the milk and salt and cook over medium heat, whisking frequently, until thickened and creamy, 12 to 15 minutes. Whisk in the nutmeg.

3. Use right away, or allow to cool and refrigerate for as long as 10 days. Reheat before using, thinning the sauce with a little milk if it is too thick.

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