I still remember the first time I did my first Béchamel Sauce...Oh! Lord...it was a mess...
I didn't formally go to culinary school but definitely had a full training in French cooking, so the first time I did it, was in the kitchen classroom where I was sharing burners with 3 more classmates and I barely cooked without help. So later when I came home and tried to recreate what I supposedly learned, it resulted a lumpy inedible thing. Can't tell when the transformation from being unable to boil water to cook a nice done Béchamel sauce happened, I'll just say that measure cups helped a lot!
Anyways, Béchamel sauce is very delicate to cook. It's very sensitive to temperatures, but once you dominate the art of it, you'll conquer the culinary world!
The first tip I can tell you if you are a beginner, is to start with small quantities. I think that one of my first mistakes was wanting to cook tons of it at once. So, the smaller the manageable will be. You wanna start with your miscelplace done 'cause this is going to be really quick babe!
1 cup of whole milk
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
2 1/2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 wooden spoon
1 hand whisk
To make the roux, melt the butter in a pan over medium heat, there's no need to brown it, just melt it. Add the flour all at once and immediately mix together until you get a light golden sandy color. It should look like a paste. Cook it for 1 minute (don't stop moving it with the wooden spoon). Be careful because it burns really fast. You can tell it's burnt when...let´s see... it gets brown and smells like burnt (haha)... If you reach this point throw it away and start all over again or it will ruin the sauce flavor. So, once that scary minute is over, take the milk with your other hand (this is why is so important to have everything you need prepared in advanced), take your whisk, and at the same time stir 1/3 of it over the paste and stir continuously until smooth. You´ll see it thickens immediately, so this is the point to add more milk and repeat it again with the remains. If you feell that things are starting to get very hot you may remove the pan from the heat to cool it down and keep on working like this.
Continue to stir until sauce is smooth and thick enough so you can dip your spoon into the sauce and make a gap with your finger, which should not fill again. Watch the video for visual reference! Add salt to taste and a pinch of nutmeg.
Once you have your Béchamel is ready, there’s 3/4 of the job already done. The only thing you need to do is assembly your sandwich.
2 slices ½”-thick country-style bread, toasted
2 oz. ham, preferably Paris or York ham (about 2 slices)
3 oz. Gruyére, grated (about 1½ cups)
1Tbsp Dijon mustard
Place 2 slices of bread, Dijon side down, top with ham and half of cheese.
Top with remaining slice of bread, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet, add béchamel on top and finish with remaining cheese. Broil until cheese is nice golden brown and bubbling, about 15 minutes.
Tip: This is the best comfort dinner after a long busy day, but you can turn it into a delicious breakfast by adding a fried or poached egg on top. This is called Croque Madame.