In the food context, 'Béchamel' refers to a classic French white sauce that is made from a roux (a mixture of butter and flour) and milk. It is one of the five mother sauces in French cuisine and serves as a base for many dishes.
The name 'Béchamel' is derived from the French Marquis Louis de Béchamel, who is credited with developing the sauce.
Here are some examples of how Béchamel sauce is used in culinary preparations:
1. Moussaka: Béchamel sauce is an essential component of traditional Greek moussaka. It is layered with eggplant, ground meat (often lamb or beef), and potatoes, and then topped with Béchamel sauce before baking. The sauce adds richness and creaminess to the dish.
2. Lasagna: Béchamel sauce is commonly used in lasagna recipes. It is layered between pasta sheets along with meat or vegetable fillings and tomato sauce. The Béchamel sauce adds a creamy element to the lasagna.
3. Croque Monsieur/Madame: Béchamel sauce is a key ingredient in the classic French sandwiches Croque Monsieur and Croque Madame. The sauce is spread on the bread slices before adding ham and cheese. The sandwich is then toasted or grilled to perfection.
4. Gratin: Béchamel sauce is often used as a base for gratins. It is combined with cheese, vegetables, or pasta and baked until the top is golden and bubbly. Gratin dishes like potato gratin or cauliflower gratin rely on Béchamel sauce for their creamy texture.
5. Vol-au-vent: Béchamel sauce is used as a filling for vol-au-vent, a type of puff pastry shell. The sauce is combined with ingredients like chicken, mushrooms, or seafood and served in the crispy pastry shells as an elegant appetizer or main course.