beschamelso▀e

from Nancy Enright's Canadian Herb Cookbook

Irene Candelieri, the Italian for whom I translated the Beatles' All You Need is Love into German one night, made a great lasagne with this sauce as the rest of us appetized ourselves on French cheeses and Italian wines. I think she sautÚed zucchini until it was perfect (don't ask me how), threw in mushrooms (also done to perfection), and perhaps some other vegetable -- eggplant? not sure -- all layered with small lasagna noodles -- the flat kind, not the scalloped-edge kind, though it only matters for presentation -- and this sauce, to which Sybille referred as the German »bechamelso▀e«. I have aspirations of making my own invented lasagne, without recipe and relying on innate cooking ideas, but until then, here is a recipe for the sauce.

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter
  • 1/4 cup unsifted flour
  • 2 cups homogenized or 2% milk
  • 1 small onion (opt'l.) studded with
  • 2 or 3 cloves
  • 1 small bay leaf
  • 1 sprig fresh or dried thyme -- 1.5" long
  • salt & white pepper to taste
  • nutmeg -- to taste
The author writes: "This white sauce recipe is ideal when a cup or so is needed for a dish, for the remainder may be chilled or frozen for future use. To make a cheese (mornay) sauce, add 1 to 1 1/2 cups grated cheese to the warm bÚchamel sauce, simmer, and stir until cheese has melted."

Instructions
In a medium heavy saucepan, melt butter over low heat. When butter starts to foam, add the flour all at once, mixing well with a wooden spoon. Cook over low heat 3 to 4 minutes, stirring constantly to incorporate and cook flour. Remove pan from heat and let stand, up to 15 minutes. Cooling this roux [fat-and-flour mix, says hollis that joy says, basis of a sauce] helps eliminate any starchy taste.

Meanwhile, in a medium saucepan, scald milk (heating it until just below boiling point).

Return saucepan with roux to medium-low heat. Add all of the scalded milk at once (to avoid the formation of lumps). Simmer, stirring gently with a wire whisk or wooden spoon. Add studded onion, bay leaf and thyme sprig. Cook, stirring, over low heat, 15 to 20 minutes, until smooth and thickened. Strain sauce through fine-mesh strainer. Add salt, white pepper and nutmeg to taste.

Yield: About 2 cups.

From Nancy Enright's Canadian Herb Cookbook by Nancy Enright.
Toronto: James Lorimer & Company, 1985. Pg. 15. ISBN 0-88862-788-2.

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