Bechamel

Bechamel or white sauce is one of the most famous sauces in French cuisine. Thanks to its incomparable aroma and exquisite taste, it won the hearts of not only the French. It conquered all of Europe: restaurants in leading European countries traditionally use it both as an independent product and as a base for other sauces. Undoubtedly, he is the real pride of the French. Light, delicate, fragrant, combined with almost any dish, it can rightfully be called an aristocratic sauce and be proud of its noble origin. Although Italian gourmets still consider it their brainchild and are ready to challenge the right of primacy from France.

A bit of history

However, the claims of the Italians are not based on an unfounded assertion. One version of the origin of this gourmet dish indicates that the recipe for the sauce was brought to France by young Catherine de Medici, the future wife of the French king Henry II. At fourteen, she left sunny Florence to become a great queen.

The wedding feast, which lasted for more than a month, was served by both French and Italian chefs, brought with them by the young bride of the king. It was there that the Italian sauce was first served, which later in France became known as bechamel. In Italy, long before that, it was called balsamella. And the recipes of these two dishes are surprisingly similar to each other.

The French do not give the palm, insisting that they have two versions of the appearance of this product.

According to one of them, the recipe for the sauce was discovered by Louis de Bechamel, the Marquis de Nointel, who at that moment was the manager at the court of the legendary French king Louis XIV. The story tells that the marquis slightly modified the veloute sauce, popular at that time, while obtaining a completely different product, remarkably appealing to fish dishes, the seasoning for which he intended to receive. The happy marquis named the resulting tasty and fragrant sauce after himself. However, such manipulations with the ingredients of the dishes could only be carried out by a person with a subtle feeling and an exquisite culinary taste. History is silent about the fact that Louis de Bechamel possessed such abilities. All that remains is the mention of his compatriot Count d'Escar, in which he laments the fact that in his life he was not able to name even the simplest dish by his name, unlike the lucky Bechamel.

Another version tells that the secret of making this sauce belongs to the famous chef of the Sun King Louis XIV, Francois Pierre de la Varenne. Many historical studies attribute to him the use of the roux thickener in this sauce, made from flour fried in butter until golden brown. Previously, only softened bread crumb was used for this. Well, having named the dish in honor of his contemporary Louis Bechamel, de la Varenne apparently thanked the Marquis for something, or simply wanted to curry favor with him.

Undoubtedly, the French are proud that such an incomparable sauce was born in their country. In addition to those two stories, another famous French name is inextricably linked with him. This is Philippe du Plessis Mornay, governor of Saumur. Some historical facts attribute to him not only the invention of bechamel, but also other equally famous sauces:

  • chasseur;
  • porto;
  • morne;
  • Lyon sauce.

The heyday of the art of cooking in the 17th and 18th centuries led to the fact that bechamel acquired numerous variations. Each chef wanted to bring something new to the recipe of this dish, thanks to which more and more different ingredients were added there. This continued until the well-known chef Marie-Antoine Karem, who became one of the first residents of haute cuisine, began to manage the culinary delights in the royal kitchen. Under his leadership, all unnecessary ingredients were removed and bechamel received the composition of the products by which it is known to this day.

Composition and types of sauce

Classic bechamel is prepared on the basis of roux and cream. The thickener roux consists of flour fried in butter until golden brown. Currently, various types of milk can be used instead of cream. Flour and butter are mixed in equal proportions and cream is gradually added. They need to be used based on the density of the sauce that you want to get. Bechamel can be of medium density, liquid, and also be a thick viscous mass.

Bechamel is one of the five classic French sauces, which are used in various variations or completely new liquid seasonings. Various spices, broths, herbs and spices are often added here. Here are several types of sauces prepared on the basis of bechamel:

  • mornay (mornay) - prepared with the addition of grated parmesan, gruyère and fish broth, served with seafood and vegetables;
  • nantua - cooked with crab meat, served with seafood dishes;
  • soubise - prepared with the addition of chopped onions, it goes well with fish dishes and poultry.

Chemical composition and nutritional value

The energy value of white sauce is 59.8 kcal. Proteins contain about 1 gram, fats - 4.4 grams, and carbohydrates - 3.58 grams. Bechamel contains saturated fatty acids, dietary fiber, water, ash, as well as vitamins and minerals. The vitamin composition is revealed by vitamin E (about 1.2 mg), thiamine (about 0.01 mg), riboflavin (0.02 mg) and vitamin PP (about 0.2 mg).

The mineral composition is represented by sodium (411 mg), potassium (25 mg), phosphorus (83 mg), magnesium (6 mg), calcium (14 mg) and iron (0.2 mg). Dietary fiber is about 0.4 grams, water - 89.1 grams and ash - 1.6 grams. Saturated fatty acids account for about 0.9 grams.

Useful properties of bechamel

The components that make up the classic sauce have valuable and beneficial properties for the human body. They contain a wonderful vitamin complex and the mineral composition necessary for health.

Since bechamel is essentially a mixture of butter, wheat flour and dairy products, its use:

  • improves eyesight;
  • regulates hormonal levels;
  • improves skin and hair condition;
  • charges the body with energy and vivacity;
  • increases efficiency and craving for creativity;
  • has an antifungal effect;
  • improves the protective properties of the body;
  • improves immunity;
  • normalizes and improves brain function;
  • saturates the body with calcium and protein;
  • has antiviral properties;
  • improves the functioning of the nervous system;
  • serves as a prevention of depression and nervous disorders.

All this happens with the help of beneficial substances that are part of its ingredients. Wheat flour, for example, is a rich source of fiber and carbohydrates. Thanks to her, the sauce becomes very nutritious and satisfying.

Rye, buckwheat, and oat flour can also be used to make bechamel. But preference is given to the wheat product of the second grade, as it is more valuable and useful.

Butter contains such a valuable component as lauric acid, with which the body is able to fight various fungal diseases. Well, milk, of course, is just a storehouse of calcium and protein, so necessary for the normal functioning of the body.

But here it is necessary to pay attention to the fact that during the heat treatment of its components, their valuable and medicinal properties are slightly reduced. But it definitely improves the taste of the dish.

Harmful and dangerous properties

The harmful properties of this sauce, as well as useful ones, directly depend on the products included in its composition. If wheat flour of the highest grade is used for cooking, then the synthetic preservatives included in it will get into the bechamel, and the calorie contentof the final product will also increase , which will undoubtedly lead to uncontrolled weight gain.

Also, frequent use of butter can lead to unpleasant consequences in the form of extra pounds. And it also contains harmful cholesterol, which accumulates in large quantities in the human body, which leads to the development of a disease such as atherosclerosis.

Some people are born allergic to milk and dairy products, or lactose intolerant. For them, bechamel sauce is categorically contraindicated. It is also dangerous for the older generation, as milk contains bad cholesterol, the use of which leads to atherosclerotic conditions.

Classic sauce recipe

To prepare bechamel you will need:

  • butter - 50 grams;
  • wheat flour - 50 grams;
  • salt - 1 pinch;
  • milk or 10% cream - 800 ml;
  • nutmeg - 1 teaspoon.

Melt the butter in a gravy boat. Gradually pour flour into it. Stir over low heat until smooth, until the flour acquires a golden hue. Then, in a thin stream, pour hot, but not boiled milk into the resulting mass. This must be done with constant stirring so that lumps do not form in the process. At the very end of cooking, add a spoonful of nutmeg and a little salt to the sauce. Mix everything thoroughly and remove the saucepan from the heat.

Bechamel and mayonnaise

Oddly enough, in Russia they often confuse bechamel and mayonnaise. Although these two sauces are similar to each other only in antiquity of origin and milky color. They are completely different from each other neither in composition nor in scope.

European countries, and especially Italy and France, will never allow themselves such a thing. It is impossible to find a single Frenchman or Italian who would consider these two sauces interchangeable. Everyone knows perfectly well that mayonnaise is used to season cold dishes, and bechamel is used with hot ones. In France, it is unacceptable to bake or stew dishes with mayonnaise, only white sauce is used for this.

If you try to use a rather interesting bechamel instead of the usual mayonnaise, you can immediately notice how the taste of dishes will change for the better. After all, white sauce, unlike its simpler counterpart, can be easily supplemented with various components in the form of spices and spices, changing its taste.

Conclusions

Bechamel is an exquisite French sauce that came to us from the distant 18th century, but still has not lost its popularity. In Italian and French cuisine, it deservedly occupies one of the leading places, thanks to its taste and useful qualities. This sauce goes very well with meat, fish, vegetable dishes. Pairs well with pasta and eggs. This is a universal seasoning, it is served both hot and cold, but preference is still given to a heated product. Thanks to the ingredients that make up its composition, bechamel has beneficial properties for the body, but its contraindications are also due to the same. Eating this white sauce improves immunity, improves eyesight, charges the body with energy and vigor, improves sleep and fights depression. Bechamel also has antiviral properties and has an antifungal effect. It is not recommended to use this sauce for the elderly, as there may be a risk of atherosclerotic conditions. It is also contraindicated for people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to milk and dairy products. In general, the main task of any sauce is to improve the taste of various dishes, mask their shortcomings and enhance their merits. Bechamel copes with all these tasks perfectly.