Mario Batali's Besciamella

Mario Batali's Besciamella

Details

A silky-smooth Italian white sauce consisting of butter, flour, milk and nutmeg.
  • Serves: 3 1/2 cups
  • Active Time: 25 mins
  • Total Time: 25 mins
  • Views: 34,105
  • Success: 100%

Steps

Step 1: Cooking the Roux

• 5 tbsp unsalted butter
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

Method

To make the besciamella, heat a saucepan over medium heat and melt the butter. Once melted, add the flour to create a roux and stir until smooth. Cook for about 6 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until it turns a light-golden brown.

Step 2: Making the Besciamella

• 3 cups whole milk
• 1 to 2 tsp sea salt
• 1/2 tsp freshly-grated nutmeg

Method

Meanwhile, in a separate pot, heat the milk to just under a boil. Once the mixture has browned and the milk has heated, add the milk to the roux, about one cup at a time. Whisk constantly, until very smooth, bringing it back to a boil each time. Once all of the milk has been incorporated and the mixture has come back up to a gentle boil, turn the heat to low and let cook for about 10 minutes. Stir occasionally. The sauce should nicely coat the back of a spoon. Once done, remove from the heat and season with the salt and freshly-grated nutmeg.

Besciamella sauce is widely used in many dishes, such as lasagne, soufflés, and moussaka.

Chef's Notes

Besciamella can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. It is best to cool the besciamella by placing it over an ice bath and stirring until it cools down. Place plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to seal and refrigerate.

3 Comments

  • Gian D
    Gian D
    my sauce ended up tasting like butter mostly, i think because i over browned my butter.
  • Dawnmarie Y
    Dawnmarie Y
    This recipe is the base for many of my sauces and gravies. It is so versatile that I have found a wide variety of things to do with it just by adding different things to it. My family loves it when I add crumbled cooked sausage and serve it with biscuits, but my favorites involve adding any one (or two, or three, or...) of a large selection of cheeses for wonderful sauces to go over vegetables, eggs, or meats. My sister would freak if she knew that my "special" broccoli cheddar soup is really just a cheesy besciamella with bits of broccoli simmered in it. Experiment with this; have fun and find lots of new flavors.
  • Leigh S
    Leigh S
    What a great white sauce! Easy to make and fun to watch -- adding the first cup of hot milk to the roux is almost magical as this thick rich sauce develops before your eyes. I am sold on this two pot method.

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