HELP BECHAMEL PROBLEM

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I'm practicing my bechamel trying to make it perfect so I can A's my sauce test on Wens. I didn't measure it because I want to think on my head also I dont have a scale, it did came out good but how come its all thick and not a saucey like I wanted it to be. The sauce is like the consistency to make Lasagna.

can I add a little bit of water to make it smooth
 
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Walk us through the procedure.  When making bechamel think equal parts butter and flour.  Then add enough warm milk to get to your desired consistancy.
 
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Standard bechamel ratios are 2 tbs butter, 2 tbs flour, 2 cups (1 pint) milk, a grating of nutmeg, a little salt, a little pulverized white pepper. You should be able to eyeball this to extreme accuracy. If you can't, better get started learning. It helps if you know your cookware.

Measure (could be by eyeball) about 2-1/2 cups of milk into a pan and warm it (or make a soubise). In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat, add the flour all at once, and stir. Cook the roux until the raw is off (blonde roux), raise the heat to medium-high and add 1 cup of the milk. Whisk until the milk comes to a boil (won't take long in this small a quantity), and the flour thickens it as much as it can (about 10 seconds past the boil). Add another cup of milk, bring to a boil, and check the thickness. If it needs more thinning, add the remaining milk. When the bechamel is as you like it, remove it from the heat. Grate a little nutmeg and whisk it in off the flame, add salt and pepper, whisk, and adjust seasoning as necessary.

Just as an FYI, an Escoffier style bechamel uses a milk soubise. Cut an onion in half, peel it, stick four (not three or five) cloves in it, put it in 2-1/2 cups cold milk, bring the milk to a simmer, cover and cook until the onion softens (about twenty minutes). Discard the onion or use it for another purpose. Use the soubise to make your bechamel (duh). Old school French cooking, but still effective.

You don't absolutely need to warm the milk ahead of time to make a smooth bechamel, but it makes things go much faster. You absolutely do need to bring things to a full boil when you're thickening with flour. Not only that, you need to bring things back to the boil with any liquid addition.

Also worth remembering: You can add hot roux to a hot liquid; hot liquid to a hot roux; cold liquid to a hot roux; and cold roux to a hot liquid (beurre manie is a parallel); hot liquid onto a cold roux is iffy (but why would you?); but you cannot add cold roux to a cold liquid or vice versa.

Hope this helps,
BDL
 
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If you make a bechamel properly, you will never have problems.

Many add hot milk to the roux, this is not right! Always add COLD milk to the hot roux (=approx. 50/50 butter-flour). Use a whisk, not a wooden spoon!

Once the roux is cooked for a little while on low fire and all flour is nicely incorporated, add a small amount of cold milk and whisk vigourously into a smooth paste. Add some more cold milk, whisk again and let boil very gently. Keep adding cold milk in small steps if the sauce is still too thick.

When the right consistency is reached, let the sauce boil gently to get rid of flour taste. Stir from time to time.

Season with s&p, nutmeg.

When using hot milk on hot roux, there's a much bigger chance your sauce will have lumps!

Adding other ingredients will make another sauce;

- bechamel and cooked onion purée; sauce Soubise

- bechamel and cheese; sauce Mornay

- bechamel and tomato purée; sauce Aurore
 
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If you make a bechamel properly, you will never have problems.

Many add hot milk to the roux, this is not right! Always add COLD milk to the hot roux (=approx. 50/50 butter-flour)....

When using hot milk on hot roux, there's a much bigger chance your sauce will have lumps!
I've always added hot milk to my roux.  Have you actually ever done it or are you just repeating something you've learned?  Because I've never ever had lumps.  Ever.

Bechamel is my favorite substance on earth. 
 
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I always add the milk at room temperature, never had lumps either. And I agree with what's already been said - you probably need more milk.
 
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I've always added hot milk to my roux.  Have you actually ever done it or are you just repeating something you've learned?  Because I've never ever had lumps.  Ever.

Bechamel is my favorite substance on earth. 
Adding cold milk to a hot roux for making bechamel is truly basic culinary knowledge! And to answer your question, no I haven't used hot milk to make bechamel, why would I?

On the other hand, I frequently make a velouté, where as you know, the milk is replaced by stock, in my case mostly chickenstock. The circumstances are many times so that the stock is still very hot when adding it to the roux. As you may know it's really hard to control the speed in which the  binding occurs when adding hot liquid to hot roux. In this case it's a matter of whisking at full speed, no?
 
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I agree with BDL . The onion he is talking about is a half onion attach a bay leaf with a few cloves used as nails. we used to call studded onion. Any time I have ever made Bechamel it is strained after cooking (forced through a chinoise) nutmeg salt and white pepper, ansd I prefer room temp milk. I then after straining finish the sauce with heavy cream.
 
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Cold liquid to hot roux is one of several good ways, but not "basic" in the sense that it's necessary or better. There's nothing wrong with it and sometimes It's more convenient, especially when making small amounts of bechamel, veloute or whatever -- and times will run proportionally short. You should whisk constantly anyway.

Speed is the point of hot into hot; and I said so in my advice to the OP. If the roux is properly made, and the sauce appropriately whisked when the milk and roux are combined, there are no lumps. Smoothness and speed of combination aren't substantially different from using a beurre manie. where the liquid must be hot. And really, when you're making large quantities of a roux thickened sauce, it's a lot more practical to do it hot into hot or cold roux into hot liquid, otherwise you end up stirring forever waiting for the pot to come to the boil.

Don't add milk at a rolling boil to roux or vice versa -- not because of thickening issues, but because holding milk at a rolling boil for more than a few seconds is problematic. It "cheeses" and loses its sweetness so easily, it's a good idea to keep your temps under control. It's not an uncommon issue in home or pro kitchens. I should have mentioned it,

BDL
 
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Adding cold milk to a hot roux for making bechamel is truly basic culinary knowledge! And to answer your question, no I haven't used hot milk to make bechamel, why would I?

On the other hand, I frequently make a velouté, where as you know, the milk is replaced by stock, in my case mostly chickenstock. The circumstances are many times so that the stock is still very hot when adding it to the roux. As you may know it's really hard to control the speed in which the  binding occurs when adding hot liquid to hot roux. In this case it's a matter of whisking at full speed, no?
If you haven't done it then you can't speak from experience, so you can't really be sure that adding hot milk to hot roux causes lumps.  If it is indeed a matter of controlling the speed then I must have mastered it because my bechamel is superb.  It does not need to be strained for lumps, and neither does my avgolemono come to think of it.  I consider this proof that I am a formidable home cook. :)
 
 
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Being born and raised in France, bechamel was a staple at home. We made it at least once a week, and usually that was my job. It was considered an easy task, better left to the kids. I was never given any ratio, formula or recipe either. Just shown how to do it: melt some butter, add as much flour as the butter will absorb, cook a while, add cold milk and cook until it thickens to desired consistency (depending on the use).

I've always done the hot roux-cold milk method without even thinking that there were other ways. I've never had problems with lumps, and never sieved my sauce.

One thing, though: it's a slow method.

Now that I'm a grown up I've tried other methods, like the hot-roux-hot-milk one for example. It works just as well, but it is faster as you don't have to worry about whisking the milk as it's heating up.

I guess my experience only reinforces what Koukouvagia and BDL already said here.
 
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If you haven't done it then you can't speak from experience, so you can't really be sure that adding hot milk to hot roux causes lumps.  If it is indeed a matter of controlling the speed then I must have mastered it because my bechamel is superb.  It does not need to be strained for lumps, and neither does my avgolemono come to think of it.  I consider this proof that I am a formidable home cook. :) 
I did not say that I'm "sure" it causes lumps! Here's what I said; "...When using hot milk on hot roux, there's a much bigger chance your sauce will have lumps!...".

So yes, you should consider yourself a formidable home cook /img/vbsmilies/smilies/thumb.gif.

When I said it's a basic culinary knowledge, I was refering to the simple fact that it's being taught that way in culinary schools. No more, no less.

Hang on, that's half the truth. They teach that a bechamel is either cold milk on hot roux or cold roux on hot milk. The last thing is a bit oldfashioned or let's say unknown to many; you would make a roux with butter and flour, let it dry, mostly in the oven at low temperature and when cold crumble it into hot milk. This is not beurre maniè as BDL mentions. Beurre maniè is an uncooked mixture of butter and flour, used to thicken sauces, mostly dark sauces and certainly in stews when the sauce comes out too liquid, not for making bechamel.

But let's not be too conformistic. Like to heat and infuse the milk with anything you like? Why not. Even then it's best to bring the milk shortly to a boil and let it cool (read infuse) with whatever people want to put in it to flavor the milk. Vive la révolution!
 
 
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CHRIS.

  When I taught cullinary in the school system this was part of our course of study.

  In the Hotels years ago brown and blond  roux was made in the oven . Flour on a sheetpan till as the chef said ''smelled like roasting hazelnuts'' then it was done. It was stored in covered cans for later use. At that time it was put into hot butter and one proceeded from that point. White roux hot /cold  cold/hot principal was as you say.

The reason I strained Sauce Bechamel  was not to rid it of lumps., but to get out peppercorns, and studed onion.
 
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I was just wondering if anyone makes a bechamel with the onion pique ? I make it this way for certain dishes. Just curious......

Petals.
 
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Some other things having nothing to do with Chef Petal's question.

1.  My bad.  I omitted the bay leaf from the soubise.  Zut alors! 

2.  If you read my earlier post as equating beurre manie and roux, you read wrong. 

3.  Chris's idea that using hot milk to make a bechamel is  "new school," but using cold milk is "classic," is wrong.  Here's Escoffier from Recipe 28: 
Pour the boiling milk on the roux, which should be almost cold, and whisk it well so as to avoid lumps. Let it boil, then cook on the side of the fire. [Preliminary steps for making a veal-infused bechamel]... [And] There is another [Lenten, meatless] way of making the sauce.  After having boiled the milk, the seasoning and aromatics should be added; the saucepan is then covered and placed on a corner of the stove, so as to ensure a thorough infusion. The boiling milk must now be poured on to the roux which has been separately prepared, and the sauce should then cook for one quarter of an hour only.
[Emphases added] 

The idea that cold milk is currently somehow more "academically correct," is also wrong.  From Larousse's Sauce Bible
Make a cut into the onion, about 1 inch deep, and slide the bay leaf into this slit. Stick the cloves into the onion, and place it, along with the milk and nutmeg, into a heavy-gauge, non-corrosive saucepan. Place this over medium heat.

 In a separate pan, cook the butter and flour for about 5 minutes, stirring continuously, without browning, until it emits a nutty aroma. Remove from the fire.  When the milk is fairly hot, pour some into the cooled down roux, stirring until the milk is thoroughly blended in.  Return this to the remaining [hot] milk, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring frequently. Season to taste with salt and white pepper, strain, and set aside until ready to use.
[Emphases added]

It's time to invoke the mercy rule.

BDL
 
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I make sauce Bechamel with milk I've slightly warmed- just enough to take off the chill of the refrigerator. The milk is still cool- just not COLD. I've never had to sieve my sauce or had trouble of any kind. I use it as a Mornay sauce for macaroni and cheese. I make sauce Veloute with strained, hot poaching liquid when I make the filling for chicken pot pies for my husband or my mother-in-law. 

I'm a home cook with no training other than my mom's advice (in my youth), 50+ years of cooking on my own, and reading here at Chef Talk. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/bounce.gif
 
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