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swirl and savor

Almost there...the Besciamella

Beth Ribblett

 Step 1: Make the soffritto
Step 2:  Make the ragu
Step 3: Make the dough
Step 4: Make the besciamella

The French call it Bechamel, Americans say white sauce but no matter what you call it, it is an important component of true Italian lasagna and many other baked pasta dishes.  I have two recipes to share with you, one is quick and simple, the other a little more time consuming but it adds some subtle flavors to this delicate sauce.

So if you are following my series of recipes on making lasagna, your dough is currently resting and you have time to make your besciamella before we start assembling the dish.  Either of these recipes will give you the desired affect of adding a wonderful creaminess to your layers of lasagna, read through them both and decide what you have the energy for!

From Frances Mayes Tuscan Sun Cookbook
Makes 2 cups

4 T. unsalted butter
4 T. All-Purpose flour
2 Cups whole milk
A few gratings of fresh nutmeg
1 t. salt

Over medium-low heat, melt the butter in a 1-1/2 quart saucepan and add the flour.  Cook, stirring 2 minutes, until it forms a paste and is ever-so-slighty browned.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the milk all at once.  Return to medium-low heat and cook, stirring until thickened, about 5 minutes.  Add the nutmeg and salt.

From Jamie Oliver's Jamie's Italy

-1-3/4 pints of milk
-a sprig of fresh parsley
-a pinch of nutmeg
-1/2 onion, peeled and sliced
-6 black peppercorns
-6 tablespoons of butter
-1/2 cup all purpose flour
-5-1/2 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese
-sea salt and freshly ground pepper

Put the milk, parsley, nutmeg, onion and peppercorns into a pot. Heat to just below the boiling point.

While milk is heating take a deep pan and melt the butter. Begin to slowly add in the flour and stir until it is totally mixed in. By this time your milk should be ready. Take it off of the stove and strain out herbs and onions. Begin adding the strained milk to the butter and flour a ladle full at a time mixing it in completely before you add another. You should have a very smooth white sauce. Bring to a low boil, simmer a few minutes and then take off the heat. Mix in the Parmesan and season.

Ok so, we have all of the components needed so let's pour ourselves a glass of wine and make some lasagna!