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Old 04-18-2008, 02:29 PM   #1
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Bechamel Sauce

I know there are loads of threads about bechamel but none seem to ans my question. Normally i make a fair stab at it (heat butter add flour, take off heat add milk slowly then back onto heat till thickened - little bit lumpy but you'd get over it!!!! -) Tonight tried the all in at once method but it really didn't seem to work. Afterwards had a look at Darina Allen's Ballymalou receipe book and she swears by having your roux made up in fridge (claims it can last for 2 weeks) and then boiling up your pint of mild and adding oz of roux to thicken it.

Is this where i went wrong, should i have boiled up milk first and then added butter and flour? it just seemed to take ages to thicken and even then didn't seem to thicken as much as mine normally does - and was still a bit lumpy but was going into a fish bake so didn't really care.

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Old 04-18-2008, 03:21 PM   #2
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There are only a few steps to the process but there are a couple of keys to success.

First, the butter should be melted and the bubbling just about over. This indicates the water in the butter is gone, leaving the fat and a bit of milk solids.

Then whisk in the flour and cook it for a minute or two to ensure all theflour grains are coated in the fat. This prevents the flour grains from sticking together and making lumps in your sauce later.

Then whisk in the milk and keep whisking as you heat it up to a boil. Any initial clumping should disappear.

The sauce must come to a boil to reach it's full thickening.

There should be no lumps at all.

Season with salt and pepper and a touch of ground nutmeg.

Two tablespoons each of butter and flour will thicken a cup of milk.
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:52 PM   #3
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You might not have enough butter in there mixing with the flour. For about 2 cups of milk I start with 2-3 T butter and about 2 T flour. I really just eyeball it. But I melt the butter with the flour whisking until I have a smooth paste. I start with a cold pan and try to melt the butter as easily as possible so I have plenty of time to incorporate the flour. If I find it's still too dry I'll add a pat of butter to smooth it out a tad. When I have the smooth roux, then I add the milk. If you find it gets too thick, cut down the heat and patiently add some more milk to thin it out.
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Old 04-18-2008, 03:54 PM   #4
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Follow Andy's advice. To make double sure that it's silky smooth, I add just a bit of milk to my roux at a time, whisking it until it's all absorbed. At first, this creates a very, very thick paste. But as I add more milk, again, a little at a time, it begins to thin into a bechemel. This allows me to tailor the thickness of my sauce. By the time the milk is all added, the sauce is the thickness I want. And if I need to thin it more, I just whisk in a bit more milk. The, season with a bit of salt and nutmeg and you have silky-smooth Bechemel sauce.

Also, I have to confess that I wouldn't know how much roux to make for the amount of sauce I want for a particular dish. So I always start out with 3 tbs. each of butter and flour, following the same technique described by Andy to make the roux.

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Old 04-18-2008, 05:41 PM   #5
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As always many thanks for the great advice. Think my roux might be a bit dry so will start off with a little bit more butter next time. Never added nutmeg before will definate add next time!
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