Culinary Arts

Recipe: Béchamel Sauce

Wolfgang Puck

Lesson time 20:57 min

Learn to master one of the five French mother sauces with Wolfgang's recipe for béchamel sauce. Wolfgang shows you how to use the béchamel to make his restaurants’ best-selling macaroni and cheese, and the creamed spinach from his childhood.

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Learning to make velvety béchamel is a cornerstone of any culinary school education, but don’t let this simple white sauce recipe intimidate you. Once you’ve got it down, it can be incorporated into any number of indulgent showstoppers. What Is Béchamel? Béchamel is a versatile white sauce and the base of a variety of comfort food dishes. As one of five mother sauces in French cuisine, it’s versatile and easy to master, with only a few ingredients—butter, milk, flour, eggs, and salt. The origins of this basic white sauce may in fact be Italian, with the recipe for Renaissance-era besciamella making its way to the courts of Louis XIV in France with the chefs of Catherine de Medici. Back then, it was made from butter, flour, and milk, and eventually evolved to include steeping aromatics like bay leaf and shallots in the milk before adding it to the butter and flour. (It is not, however, the same as true alfredo sauce, which is pasta tossed with a sauce made from Parmesan cheese and butter.) These days, the sauce is most often finished with a bit of salt and black pepper, plus a few good grates of fresh nutmeg—that’s it. Classic Béchamel Base: What Is Roux? Béchamel starts with a classic French roux: a few tablespoons of flour and a few tablespoons of fat—usually butter—cooked together in a heavy saucepan to form a thick paste before the addition of milk. A béchamel is built from a white roux, or one that has been cooked very quickly to maintain its light color and subtle, nutty flavors. Milk is slowly whisked into the mixture and cooked until it takes on a creamy consistency. Tips for Making Perfect Béchamel - All home cooks should master the mother sauces—and like any pursuit of mastery, practice makes perfect. Here’s a few things to remember on your quest for perfect béchamel: - Avoid lumps. By adding warm milk to your roux in increments, you allow the roux to accept the liquid evenly and at a controllable pace. Adding all the milk at once will cause the paste to “shock,” almost immediately creating lumps that are difficult to whisk out. - Add more roux. If your béchamel comes out too thin, even after cooking it for the required 10 minutes or so, you can always whip up a quick second batch of roux and build it back in. You’ll know béchamel is done, and the right consistency, when it coats the back of a wooden spoon. - Make it vegan. To make vegan béchamel, simply swap the milk and butter for equal amounts of non-dairy alternatives like vegan butter and soy milk. What to Serve With Béchamel Sauce: Recipe Ideas As a foundational sauce, béchamel can be incorporated into any number of dishes for a creamy effect: - Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Mac and Cheese. Wolfgang transforms his béchamel into a Mornay cheese sauce by adding cheddar and mozzarella cheese, which becomes the base for this macaroni and cheese. - Chef Wolfgang Puck’s Creamed Spinach. Béchamel also provides the foundation of one of Wolfgang’s ...


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Legend has it Wolfgang Puck came up with his famous smoked salmon pizza when his restaurant ran out of bagels—and ended up changing the way America cooks. In his MasterClass, the five-time James Beard Award-winning chef behind more than 100 restaurants brings you into his kitchen. You’ll learn not only how to master starters, mains, sides, and cocktails, but also how to take risks to create memorable recipes of your own.



Reviews

4.7
Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I loved all the variations or substitute suggestions that Chef Puck gave throughout the lessons. It really gives a lot of options.

Great attention to detail! It allows me to deconstruct the process of cooking and focus on the tasting!

it was fantastic, i am really excited about the things he taught nad cant wait to try them out!

Starting with his accent, I loved Wolfgang´s direct and joyful approach to cooking. He makes cooking sound simple, creative and fun, and coming from his amazing experience, I believe him. In other words, I am ready to start!


Comments

A fellow student

Anyone know how long you can keep the Bechamel sauce in the fridge or should you make it fresh every time? Seems to me since it’s the mother sauce having some ready to go would be nice for busy weekday dinner

Rita L.

Hi Chef Wolfgang, We love the creamy spinach. I served the creamy spinach with Pan Roasted Ribeye, mashed potatoes and Chef Thomas Keller maître d'hôtel butter. Thanks for your lesson to master one of the five french mother sauces.

Robert M.

Mac and cheese is my go to comfort foods. My earliest cooking memories are of making béchamel with my babysitter. I liked the richness that mixing a few egg yokes added to the sauce.

A fellow student

I love Mac n cheese but that’s probably because I’m a child. But the spinach looks so good! yes I love my vegetables

Amelia

Does anyone know what the large stone tile is he's using in the oven? And the purpose? I have suspicions, but would love to know more...

Hana O.

Mmm, it looks so good. I can't wait to make it! It's crazy that something so simple could be so popular!

StanleydelGozo

wow such a simple mac & cheese and the creamed spinach also looks fun & tasty...mac & cheese will never be the same...here in New Mexico (USofA) I will had some heat...:-)

Beth A.

Why have I been making bechamel with cold milk? UGH! And why do I not have a cast iron skillet? Last, the whisk I do have has that big fat handle and it's always rolling and flipping away - who took my old fashioned wire whisk that stays put?!

Jennifer T.

The béchamel turned out beautiful but as I advanced to the Mac & Cheese, I questioned how much sauce to add so the pasta did not drown in the sauce. I guessed wrong and it was a bit dry but had a great flavor! I have leftover sauce now to try the creamed spinach!

A fellow student

Too funny. That s what my mum served today. Spinach and eggs from the garden. :) lovely greets from Austria