There are five French Sauce Families, according to Harold McGee’s On Food & Cooking. They are: Brown (Espagnole), Veloute, Bechamel, Hollandaise, and Mayonnaise.  Bechamel is made with milk and a white roux. I read a NYT article recently called “Recipe Deal Breakers,” about things in a recipe that make cooks move on, that is, not try to make the recipe.  Listed among the deal breakers: deep frying, matchstick cuts, trussing, lard, candy thermomters (!?), and roux.
On to Bechamel sauce. Bechamel is used in this delicious white lasagne recipe. I have made Bechamel before, as a base for other sauces- a cheese sauce, for example. This is the first time I made Bechamel where it would stand alone. In this recipe, Bechamel is the only dressing for the lasagne- there is no meat, no tomatoes, nothing else but the pasta, Parmesan, and bechamel. I had a moment of panic when the sauce seemed to start to burn, but some rapid whisking and the addition of more milk saved it. It’s a delicious recipe- great practice for Bechamel. But, all praises aside, the leftovers I made even better with the addition of some tomato sauce.

white lasagne

Cook 3/4 c minced shallots in 1/2 c butter until translucent. Add 1/2 c flour to form a roux, stirring constantly, cook 3 minutes over low heat. Add 1/2 t nutmeg, then gradually whisk in 3 3/4 c milk and 1 c chicken stock, bringing the heat gradually up as you whisk. Bring the mixture to a boil, whisking constantly, then lower the heat and simmer until the mixture coats the back of the spoon. This happens rapidly- take care not to burn the sauce. Remove from heat and let cool, stirring occasionally.

While the bechamel cools, beat 2 eggs, 1/2 cup white wine, a pinch of salt, white pepper, and 1/2 c grated Parm. Whisk into the cooled sauce. Layer the mixture in four layers with no-bake lasagne sheets. Top with remaining sauce and a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55 minutes.

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