Béchamel sauce or white sauce has been taken from the French cuisine and introduced to Greek cuisine by Nicolaos Tselementes.
The difference of a traditional Béchamel sauce to the Greek one, is that Tselementes added eggs and cheese to the Greek bechamel, which makes it much richer.
Béchamel sauce is used as a basic sauce to top Moussakas, Pastitsio, Papoutsakia and used in many other Greek recipes.
To make this sauce you need an equal amount of butter or olive oil and flour (in weight) which is made into a roux and then milk is added and flavoured with nutmeg.
The ratio to make the béchamel sauce is 85 grams fat (butter or olive oil), 85 grams all-purpose flour to 1 litre of milk.
The addition of eggs should be added carefully so as not to curdle the eggs. They are whisked separately and added a little at a time, whisking continuously until they are incorporated.
How to make Béchamel Sauce
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 10 minutes
Enough for one baking tin 35 x 30
- 1.3 litres of milk
- 150 grams olive oil (or butter or olive oil based margarine)
- 150 grams all purpose flour
- 3 – 4 eggs
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup of grated halloumi, graviera, kefalotyri or dried myzithra cheese
- Before starting, heat the milk and beat the eggs.
- In a saucepan heat the olive oil and add the flour, salt and nutmeg and mix thoroughly using a whisk, until it starts to brown.
- Remove the pot from the heat and add the warm milk, stirring constantly, until the sauce is thick and creamy. (Be careful as the hot milk may overflow).
- Whisk the eggs and add a little at a time slowly and mixing until it is incorporated.
- Remove from the heat and mix in the grated cheese.
If it becomes too thick add some more cold milk.
If it is too runny dissolve a tablespoon of corn flour (starch) with 1/4 cup of milk and stir until it sets.
To make béchamel healthier I always use olive oil instead of butter.
If you have cholesterol:
Instead of butter use olive
Add less eggs or only egg whites
Add low fat , milk, low fat cheese or skip the cheese altogether
For dishes like moussakas and pastitsio, sprinkle some cinnamon on top of the bechamel and you will be amazed by the taste.
The recipe is included in my cookbook Mint, Cinnamon & Blossom Water, Flavours of Cyprus, Kopiaste as well as in Volume 1 of the e-cookbook.
Kopiaste and Kali Orexi,