California Central Coast Recipes
Basamella Sauce is the foundation "White Sauce" of Central and Northern Italian Style Cooking. Sometimes spelled "Besciamella", another name for the sauce is Béchamel. Because basamella is the base upon which many other white sauces are made from, all serious cooks should have this sauce in their repertoire.
The key to this sauce is to prepare a proper "roux." The roux is made from the butter and the flour cooked together first. This does two things, it removes the yeasty bread taste of the uncooked flour, and second, it helps to disperse the fat of the butter into the milk to create a smooth creamy sauce. You want to cook the roux just to the point that the roux turns light tan and develops a slight nutty aroma, but does not brown --this is a white sauce!
A little trick is while making the sauce be sure the sauce is completely smooth each time before adding additional milk. In particular, when you add the first cup of milk, be sure to whisk the mixture to a smooth paste. If you do this, you will have a lump-free sauce when you finish and no straining will be required.
Preparation time: 5 minutesCooking time: 15 minutes
4-1/2 cups Hot Milk
1/2 cup All Purpose Flour , we prefer unbleached
6 Tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoons Salt
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoons Freshly Ground Nutmeg
A few grinds Black or White Pepper
1 In a sauce pan over medium heat, heat the milk until just boiling.
2 While the milk is heating, in a sauce pan large enough to hold and comfortably stir the milk, melt the butter over medium heat . Add the flour and with a whisk, stir until the mixture is smooth. As you cook, the butter and flour mixture it will begin to foam a bit. Continue to cook over medium heat until the mixture begins to turn a light tan in color.
3 While whisking continuously, carefully add one cup of hot milk to the mixture. It will steam up very fast, so be careful not to burn yourself. Keep whisking until a smooth paste forms. Add another cup of hot milk and continue whisking until the mixture is smooth.
4 While stirring continuously, bring the sauce to a slow boil. Cook for a few minutes more until the sauce thickens.
5 Season the sauce with the nutmeg, salt and pepper to taste. Strain if necessary, cover and set aside until ready to use.
Basamella Sauce is usually used straight in classic Italian Dishes like Lasagna Bolognese. Another variation is Basamella Rica Sauce, it is Basamella with Parmesan cheese added. Add a little egg yolk to that and you have Mornay Sauce.
There are many other variations, but they all start with the basic Basamella sauce.