Known today for being one of the most iconic ingredients in the classic lasagne, béchamel sauce has a slightly murky history. Some believe that this delicious, creamy concoction was the work of Louis de Béchamel, chief steward to King Louis XIV of France. However, others claim that the sauce was first invented in Italy in the mid-sixteenth century and later travelled to France. Assuming that the Italian origins of béchamel are indeed true, the name is thought to come from the word ‘balsamo’, literally meaning balm. This referred to a mask made from flour and water which women applied to their faces to make their skin smoother and more beautiful, and these are the same ingredients that were used in the earliest béchamel sauce recipe.
The sauce that we tend to find in lasagne now, known also as white sauce, has a few more ingredients than just flour and water, it usually contains butter and milk too, and sometimes even a little bit of cheese, making it deliciously rich and creamy. Follow our simple recipe to whip up the perfect homemade béchamel to be layered inside your favourite lasagne!
Makes about 500ml
Preparation Time: less than 10 minutes
- 500ml milk
- 50g butter
- 50g plain flour
- Generous pinch grated nutmeg
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Put the milk in a large saucepan with the butter and the flour and bring to a simmering point.
- Stir with a spoon until all of the butter has melted and then use a balloon whisk to ensure all the flour and melted butter has been incorporated into the sauce and there are no lumps left in the mixture. The béchamel sauce should thicken and become glossy.
- Season generously with salt, pepper and nutmeg and turn down the heat. Cook for 5 more minutes over a very low heat.
- Layer the sauce inside your lasagne, cook and serve. Buon appetito!
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