Besciamella (Béchamel sauce)
- Preparation time: 5 minutes.
- Cooking time: 15 minutes.
- 50g butter
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- Half a litre milk
- 50g Parmesan
- Optional: half a litre beef stock.
Melt the butter over a low heat in a stainless steel pan. Gradually sprinkle in the flour, and stir well with a wooden spoon until smooth in consistency; cook gently until the mixture becomes a light golden colour. Add the milk gradually, stirring constantly to avoid lumps forming. Should this occur, you will have to sieve the sauce. Cook for at least fifteen minutes stirring all the time. When the bèchamel becomes rich and creamy in consistency-not too thick and not to runny, but forming ribbons on the surface whwn it falls from the spoon - remove from the heat, taste for salt, add a pinch of powdered nutmeg and the grated Parmesan. For a different flavour, you can replace the milk with the same quantity of beef stck, or use half milk and half stock.
The famous Italian cookery writer, Pellegrino Artusi affirmed thet "A good bèchamel and a well thickened meat sauce are the basis and the greatest secret of good cookery", and there is a lot of truth in the statementBéchamel sauce
Ironically, bèchamel sauce was probably re-introduced to Italy from France. In fact, the original 'Biancomangiare'(White pudding), which is a sweet variation made with ground almonds, dates back to Maestro Martino, and was later revived by Bartolomeo Sacchi.