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béchamel

Pronunciation: [bay-shah-MEHL; BEH-shah-mehl]

Also called by its Italian name, balsamella, this basic French white sauce is made by stirring milk into a butter-flour roux. The thickness of the sauce depends on the proportion of flour and butter to milk. The proportions for a thin sauce would be 1 tablespoon each of butter and flour per 1 cup of milk; a medium sauce would use 2 tablespoons each of butter and flour; a thick sauce, 3 tablespoons each. Béchamel is one of the four "mother sauces" (see sauce). It was named after its inventor, Louis XIV's steward Louis de Béchamel.