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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Salsa Balsamella (White Sauce or Bechamel Sauce)

This is a basic white sauce and was one of the first things I taught my daughter to cook because she was such a great stirrer ; ) Balsamella or Bechamel is the White Sauce that is used in Fettuccine Alfredo, Macaroni and Cheese, and many other baked pasta dishes such as Lasagna Bianco (lasagna with white sauce) and Baked Pasta Bolognese. You can Cheese It Up by adding grated cheese of your choice at the end and stirring until melted.
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 -1 teaspoon salt
*optional a few grates of nutmeg
Put the milk into a small heavy bottomed pot and turn to medium low heat and bring to just below the boiling point, do not bring to boil. Or microwave for 1 minute. This heating up process will make the thickening process much much quicker but you can skip this part and just use cold milk.
In another small heavy bottomed pan (or the same one after you have removed the milk and set aside) melt the butter over medium/high heat. Add the flour and stir in with a wooden spoon. Cook while stirring for 2 minutes , just to cook out flour taste.
Add all the milk at once and whisk in stirring *continually. Continue whisking over  medium/high  heat until it  starts to boil then lower to medium heat and whisk until it is as thick as heavy cream and coats the back of a spoon. It will also thicken up more as it cools.
*NOTE: I stir almost continually but I may walk away for a second or two here and there.
Add salt and nutmeg.Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.  If you find any lumps just whisk them out.
This recipe is best made just before using but can be made ahead and refrigerated then gently re-heated before using.


Andrea the Kitchen Witch said...

This white sauce was one of the first things I learned to cook, too! It always amazed me when people said it was hard to do :) A good white sauce is the base of so many delicious things!

Ann Minard said...

I agree Andrea. It was one of the first things I taught my daughter because I knew it was a easy and a way to build up her confidence in the kitchen.
Try adding it to your baked pasta dishes, it adds a mellow creaminess that is not too heavy.