Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sauce Béchamel, One of the Five Mother sauces in French Cuisine.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman
Updated May 2019

Sauce Béchamel
Sauce Béchamel
Sauce Béchamel is a white sauce that at its simplest is made with butter, flour, and milk flavored with nutmeg. It has been part of French cuisine since at least the mid-1600s when it was named after Louis de Béchamel Marquis of Nointel, (1630-1703). Louis de Béchamel was King Louis XIV of France’s Finance Minister and his tax collector. As such Béchamel flattered by having many dishes named after him; however Sauce Béchamel is the only recipe with his name that has survived. (BTW  King Louis XIV built the Chateau de Versailles).

Zucchinis (courgettes) with Sauce Béchamel Gratinée.

Sauce Béchamel is a mother sauce.

A mother sauce may be served on its own but its importance lies in its use as a base for many other sauces. Nearly all creamy white sauces are the children of Sauce Béchamel.  Following on them a sauce that develops from a child is, obviously the original sauce’s grandchild, The most well-known children of Sauce Béchamel are listed towards the end of this post.

Salmon and Sauce Bechamel.
 Sauce Béchamel on French menus:
Gratin d'Aubergine, Pommes de Terre et Viande Hachée à la Sauce Béchamel -  Aubergines, USA eggplants, mashed potatoes and chopped beef covered with a Béchamel sauce; cooked and browned in the oven.
 Pâtes Farcies au Veau et Épinard, Nappées d'une Sauce Tomate et Béchamel, le Tout Gratiné -Fresh pasta stuffed with veal and spinach and served with an oven-browned tomato and Béchamel sauce.

Lasagna alla Besciamella
That’s Italian for lasagna with Béchamel sauce.
The French use many Italian recipes and the Italians have returned the compliment with Sauce Béchamel mostly called La Besciamella.
Good recipes are for sharing.
Choux-Fleur à la Béchamel Gratinée  - Cauliflower covered with Béchamel sauce and browned under the grill.

Gratiné de Noix de Saint-Jacques en Béchamel - The meat of the king scallop cooked with béchamel sauce and browned under the grill.
Stuffed red peppers with Sauce Bechamel.
Pain de Mie, Jambon Blanc, Béchamel, Tomates et Gruyère - A sandwich of sliced bread with cooked ham, tomatoes, and Gruyere cheese; covered with Sauce Béchamel. In France, at lunchtime, sandwiches, and croissants stuffed with ham, cheese or vegetables will be on many menus with many coming with Sauce Béchamel.

The children of Sauce Béchamel

The most well-known children of Sauce Béchamel are Sauce Aurore. Sauce Mornay, Sauce Nantua, and Sauce Soubise.

Sauce Aurore

Sauce Aurore is Sauce Béchamel with added tomato puree and crème fraiche with a hint of garlic. The sauce’s color gave the sauce its name; aurore means dawn in French.

Cauliflower with Sauce Aurore Gratiné

Sauce Mornay

Sauce Mornay is Béchamel’s most famous child and it is simply made by adding Gruyere or Parmesan cheese to the Béchamel Sauce. The sauce’s original recipe and the claim that it was named after Philippe de Mornay (5 November 1549 – 11 November 1623) is disputed as Philippe de Mornay died before Louis de Béchamel was born. However, there are other Duke's de Mornay in French history.

Endives au Jambon Sauce Mornay
Belgian Endives with cured ham and Sauce Mornay.

Sauce Nantua

Sauce Nantua is a Béchamel sauce originally made with freshwater crayfish and their shells from around the town of Nantua in the department of Ain in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes. Today, from over-fishing and pollution any crayfish on Nantua menus will not be local and more often than not a lobster bisque or shellfish shells replace the crayfish with tomato paste assisting with the sauce’s color. 

Quenelles de Brochet Sauce Nantua
Pike (the fish) dumplings with Sauce Nantua.

Sauce Soubise

Sauce Soubise is a Sauce Béchamel flavored with veal stock, butter, fried onions, crème fraicheand nutmeg.   In Paris, there is a Hôtel de Soubise that was built for the Prince and Princess de Soubise in 1375.  The sauce was named after Prince Soubise, Charles de Rohan (1715 – 1787) and the Hôtel de Soubise is now the French National Archive Museum.

( N.B. Sauce Béchamel and the four other Mother sauces of French have many children and grandchildren. The five sauces are Béchamel; Espagnol, a brown sauce; Hollandaise; Veloute; and Tomate, a thick tomato-based sauce.  

Bryan G. Newman
Behind the French Menu
Copyright 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015,2019
For information on the unpublished book behind this blog contact Bryan Newman


Searching for the meaning of words, names or phrases
French menus?

Just add the word, words, or phrase that you are searching for to the words "Behind the French Menu" (best when including the inverted commas), and search with Google or Bing,  Behind the French Menu’s links include hundreds of words, names, and phrases that are seen on French menus. There are over 450 articles that include over 4,000 French dishes with English translations and explanations.

Connected Posts:  









No comments:

Post a Comment