Back to the basics

2 Nov

Bechamel is considered to be the mother of all sauces. It is commonly said that the recipe was originally created in France by the chef of Louis XIV. However, there have been disputes over the origins of bechamel. Some say that the recipe was born in Italy during the rise of the House of Medici, which was over 100 before Louis XIV was even born.

Regardless of its origins, this creamy white sauce is now widely used in an array of cuisines. It is the foundation for many of my favorite Greek, Italian and American recipes. All of which I hope to share with you in the future. But for now, I just want to bring it back to the basics and go over the technique of making a great bechamel.

Step 1: Melt 4 tablespoons of butter in a sauce pot over medium heat.

Step 2: After the butter has melted, whisk in 1/2 cup of flour. This will create a nice roux.

Step 3. Next, very slowly whisk in 3 cups of whole milk. Make sure to mix until smooth, you don’t want lumpy sauce! As the sauce thickens and begins to boil slightly, add 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg and a pinch of salt and pepper.

I use this basic recipe for bechamel all the time.  Especially when I make my all time favorite comfort food, macaroni and cheese.  I like to make “adult” mac and cheese by adding different fresh ingredients that give the classic a bit of a twist.

Southwestern Mac and Cheese

Bechamel sauce
16 oz. cheddar cheese, cubed
4 chopped jalapeno peppers
1/2 cup chopped green onions
1 cup diced tomatoes
3 cups cooked macaroni
Cooked chicken breast, sliced
1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese
Red chili flakes

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees
2.  Add cheddar cheese cubes, jalapenos, green onions, and tomatoes to the prepared bechamel sauce.  Cook over medium heat until cheese is melted.
3.  Add macaroni to the cheese sauce. Stir until pasta is evenly coated.
4. Transfer mac and cheese to four oven-safe soup crocks.  Top each portion with sliced chicken, shredded cheese and red chili flakes.  Bake for 10 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

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One Response to “Back to the basics”

  1. alanna May 2, 2013 at 2:33 am #

    mmm… looks yummy!

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