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Old 01-24-2005, 02:16 PM   #1
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Bechamel sauce help!

:?:

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Old 01-24-2005, 02:45 PM   #2
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Hi Charlie,

I have never made it so I won't be able to give you any advice, but I am sure someone here can. What seems to go wrong when you make it? What steps do you use? The more we know, the better we will be able to troubleshoot it for you.

I am going to move this to the Sauce section of the board.
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Old 01-24-2005, 02:56 PM   #3
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Thank you. I don’t know what am doing wrong, I fallow the recipe, but sauces is just not my thing. I always have a problem with gravies and other stuff like that. Another problem is I have never had it outside my home. I don’t know how or why but I was just one of those stupid things. How can person not have something as simple as this? It is one of the 5 major sauces. I don’t know, just my luck I guess. Actually on food 911 Tyler was making it once, but of course there was some kind of emergency with kids and I had to run. The only thing that I cut from that show was that he (Tyler) doesn’t like to add nutmeg, well neither do I, just do not like the taste of it. So I am open for suggestions. Any suggestions. But please describe as best as possible the final result for me.

P.S. G.B. Thank you for moving this, for some reason I did not see this forum.
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:04 PM   #4
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GB, bet you have made it, as it's just simple white sauce (like the base for mac and cheese)

Charlie, how exactly are you making it and what is wrong about it?

Basically, it's a 1 to one ratio of butter and flour. Melt the butter over medium heat, stir in the flour and cook it in the butter for a minute or two (some people cook it longer), whisk in hot milk (the amount depends on what you want the consistency of the final product to be), making sure you break up any lumps of flour. Season with salt and pepper (can also use nutmeg or other herbs/spices). Yiou can add cheese and make MORNAY sauce
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Old 01-24-2005, 05:51 PM   #5
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I've never made it, but do remember watching that episode of Food911. I remember Tyler saying that you can mess it up by overheating the sauce. Though I don't remember if he said it would come back together after it cooled down, or if it was completely ruined and you have to start over (sorry).

Maybe some one else can offer more insight.

Charlie, I've found that it helps to post the recipe and list the exact steps that you followed. I've done this in the past and gotten great responses.
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Old 01-24-2005, 06:25 PM   #6
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I'm not sure what you are doing but here is just a basic recipe that should always turn out.

6 tablespoons butter
5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of nutmeg (optional)

Melt the butter in a medium sauce pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, being sure to combine it with the butter very well, to make a roux. If the roux doesn't appear to be thick enough add 1/2 tsp more flour. If it seems too dry add a small amount of butter, 1/2 TBS or less. Let the roux cook, stirring constantly, for about 3 minutes. Do not let it darken. Gradually add the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking or stirring vigorously to incorporate. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until thickened and just starting to boil, about 15 to 20 minutes will be required. Add the salt, pepper and nutmeg.

By omitting the nutmeg you have a basic white sauce.

From here you can add your favorite cheeses (about 2 - 2 1/2 cups) - our favorite is Fontina and cheddar. Once cheeses are melted stir in cooked macaroni and eat it with child-like reckless abandon! :oops:
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Old 01-25-2005, 12:50 PM   #7
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Thank you. Like I said, maybe there was nothing wrong whit it, I just never had it before so i do not know what i'm doing. And/or maybe I simply did not like the result. Otherwisw it sounds that i did just what you are describing. Maybe I should try different flavor instead of nutmeg. I'm using this for lasagna.
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Old 01-25-2005, 01:01 PM   #8
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Look at this and see how it compares to your sauce:

SAUCE:

3/4 c. sweet butter
scant 1/2 cup flour
2 c. milk
1 1/2 c. whipping cream
1 c. reserved liquid
1/2 tsp. rosemary, tarragon and beau monde
1/2 tsp. salt
1 1/2 c. fresh Parmesan

Melt butter, blend flour and cook, stirring constantly over medium heat for about 2 minutes. Add milk, cream and reserved liquid, stirring constantly with wire whisk, until thick. Add seasonings. Remove from heat and add cheese.


NOTE: The cooking after you blend the butter/oil and flour is to remove the "flour" taste - just becareful not to brown it - but it won't hurt anything if it's just a tad golden - it's better than tasting the fhour. You will note that in every roux you stir constantly for about 2-3 minutesonce the flour has been added. This is why. If a recipe calls for a dark roux then you stand there and stir it until the flour/butter mixture becomes a caramel color.
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema
Basically, it's a 1 to one ratio of butter and flour. Melt the butter over medium heat, stir in the flour and cook it in the butter for a minute or two (some people cook it longer), whisk in hot milk (the amount depends on what you want the consistency of the final product to be), making sure you break up any lumps of flour.
Depending on how hot the milk is,

Hot roux + hot milk = major lumping

The rule of thumb for incorporating liquids/roux is

Cool liquid/hot roux
or
Cool roux/hot liquid

Not both. 'Cool' can be translated as anywhere from frozen to warm in this instance. Just not hot/hot.
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:20 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by kitchenelf
Gradually add the milk, about 1/2 cup at a time, whisking or stirring vigorously to incorporate. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until thickened and just starting to boil, about 15 to 20 minutes will be required.
You can add all the milk at once - adding it all it at once won't effect the final outcome.

Until the sauce has thickened, it has to be stirred constantly, no matter how low the heat is. This is because the flour particles, until gelatinized, have a tendency to sink to the bottom of the pan/clump. Once the sauce has fully thickened/simmered for about a minute, then less frequent stirring is an option.

The length of time to cook bechamel after it's brought to a simmer/thickened seems to vary widely from chef to chef. Although everyone agrees that bechamel has to be simmered for the starch granules to swell/break down and the texture to be right, the length of time to achieve this is hotly debated. I believe that 5 to 10 minutes is more than enough to break down the starch granules. I've spoken to other chefs who believe that 30 or more minutes are necessary. Not only does 5 to 10 minutes make a perfectly smooth sauce, I find prolonged simmering gives the milk a cooked taste.
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:21 PM   #11
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Hmmmmm...

I've been doing it this way for almost 40 years* and never had lumping once ...? Sometimes I do use cold milk, but hot or cold I've never once had a problem.

I did once make it with confectioner's sugar by mistake ... that WAS a BIG problem!



* it was one of the first things my mom taught me how to cook ... as a very small child ...
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Old 01-25-2005, 02:46 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitchenelf
... to remove the "flour" taste ...
I take it this is the key to the whole thing, isn't it? So how exactly do i do that?
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Old 01-25-2005, 03:01 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieD
Quote:
Originally Posted by kitchenelf
... to remove the "flour" taste ...
I take it this is the key to the whole thing, isn't it? So how exactly do i do that?
It's just a matter of cooking it long enough so that it doesn't taste like raw flour. It's a distinct taste. Try taking a small taste of flour straight from the bag to familiarize yourself with it. Then taste the sauce several times as you cook it. You'll be able to clearly taste the flour at first, and the flavor will lesson and blend as you cook.

Just like most recipes, it's a struggle to find the fine line between not cooking enough and cooking too much!
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Old 01-26-2005, 08:38 AM   #14
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Well, shame on me. Yesterday made the sauce it came out even worse than ever before. First of all the were clumps all over and then I managed to burn the bottom so I had bunch of burnt pieces swimming around. I don’t know, I am just not good when it comes to any sauce.
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Old 01-26-2005, 03:50 PM   #15
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Charlie, sorry to hear about your continued struggle with bechamel sauce. I have done many many such disasters because I am bad at following any recipe down to T and I used to love to experiment as a child and even now as an adult I can't break my bad habit :-)

I can tell you that there are 3 things that are very important in any roux based sauces :

The fat medium - ensure you have enough of it
The cooking temperature - Go low and slow. Add the fat and once it's slightly hot add the flour and toast it on low for atleast 10 - 15 minutes if not more. At any point don't stop stirring.
Add liquid slowly and in little amounts. The best way to prevent lumps is to first add a 1/4 cup of milk (cold) and stir to incorporate the flour with the milk and break lumps. The mixture will be a thick paste and that's O.K.. Add a little more milk and stir it in to combine, keep adding more milk until desired thickness.
I like to use a whisk when I combine the flour with the milk and I continue to use the whisk to mix everything together.
Now let it cook on low until the flour has an opportunity to absorb the milk and get creamy.
Add herbs, seasonings and grated cheese if you desire and it's ready


Don't give up. Experiment a few more times before throwing in the towel. Goodluck.
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Old 01-26-2005, 09:42 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jennyema
Hmmmmm...

I've been doing it this way for almost 40 years* and never had lumping once ...? Sometimes I do use cold milk, but hot or cold I've never once had a problem.
Two things:

1. I'm sure, with your experience, you understand 'hot' not to mean 'boiling.' For a person starting out, though, they could add boiling milk to a roux and have a mess on their hands.

2. If one were to add boiling milk to hot roux, it wouldn't be completely unsalvageable. Anyone proficient with a whisk could work out the lumps with some effort. Again, though, for the beginner - it's best to follow the hot/cold or cold/hot rule.
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Old 01-26-2005, 09:57 PM   #17
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Charlie, there is nothing better on this planet than a good gravy. Bechamel is up there too. If you don't learn how to master these, you will be seriously deprived. A life without gravy is not a life worth living. I kid you not.

So far all I've heard you do is say "I can't do it/this went wrong." You have yet to describe the process you followed. We can conjecture until now until the cows come home, but until you take this seriously enough to describe each step you take... there's very little we can do.

If you want to 'wing' something, make tomato sauce. Bechamel requires precision. If you follow the right steps, victory will be yours. Just tell us what you're doing.
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Old 01-26-2005, 11:52 PM   #18
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I can't add anything to the technique that hasn't already been said. The roux is simply 1 part flour, and 1 part fat (usually butter). Cook just long enough over medium-low heat to remove the raw flour flavor. Add milk, or cream, slowly, stirring vigorusly to incorporate until you reach the desired thickness. Cook slowly for about ten minutes more, stirring frequently.

The Bechemel sause is one of the mother sauces and is used for making literally hundreds of small sauces and gravies. It is used as a base for cream ed soups, for soufle's, for blonde sauce, Mornay Sauce, and to make parmegiano sauces. You can add bacon, ham, lemon, taragon, pepper, or virtually any herb or spice flavor you want, depending on the dish. It can also be used to bind soups such as spit pea, or lentil soup. It can be used with chipped beaf, or fresh peas and served over toast.

And the basic roux can be liquified using milk, meat stocks, or broths, veggie broths, or even the liquid from soups.

The roux , when used with stocks, makes supremely creamy gravy.

You must learn this most basic sauce. Once you have made it successfully once, you will be amazed at how easy it is to make.

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Old 01-27-2005, 12:30 PM   #19
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Scott,

I agree that your rules are best for someone who is trying to master Bechemel sauce.

Hot to me = still able to put a finger in comfortably, more like very warm. Certainly not boiling. Maybe that's why I haven't seen the lumpiness.

A good whisking usually addresses most lumpiness!
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Old 03-26-2006, 06:29 PM   #20
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Okay, y'all, I'm learning far more about cooking in detail then I thought I would ever. Learning about the mother sauces right now, but not finding explanation into a said ingredient for bechamel, that ingredient being onion piquet. Here's the recipe:

Onion Piquet
Milk
Flour
Clarified butter
Salt & White pepper
nutmeg

I saw something about onion, bay leaf and clove, but I couldn't find detail.

I'm needing this as a recipe I am going to try for company this coming Saturday calls for it. I'm making Beef Stuffed Cannelloni, or what us unknowing Americans call Mannicoti.

Much obliged for your assistance!
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