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Bechamel, does it really have eggs?

Wondering about whether one of the mother sauces, Bechamel, really is classically made with eggs? Michel Roux says so by showing a recipe for this sauce in his book Eggs. However most recipes I have seen do not have eggs.

Does anyone know what Escoffier said about the sauce?

EDIT: OOPS! I meant Mornay. So sorry. His Bechamel does not contain eggs, but his Mornay does. Does Mornay classically contain eggs? And btw he mixes the eggs into the Bechamel, along with cream, and cooks it for a minute on a medium - high heat. So in the end it's not raw eggs from what I can tell.

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  1. Béchamel absolutely does NOT contain eggs...the only classic mother sauce that does is Hollandaise.

    2 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet


      adding an egg makes SOME sort of sauce, but NOT a Bechamel!

      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

        I had this discussion over the weekend with some Chowfriends who knew Bechamel doesn't contain eggs.

        The 'Bechamel' used to top Moussaka and Pastitso often calls for egg yolks. I grew up calling white sauce 'white sauce', and used the term 'Bechamel' for the thick, yolk-added version that tops Moussaka and Pastitso. While I've now learned Bechamel with yolks added is not pure laine Bechamel, and seems to be a Greek variation (sometimes cheese is even added, the horror!), and adding eggs to Bechamel and calling it Bechamel will get some Chowhounds' knickers in a knot, it is what some people of Greek origin call and/or consider to be a Bechamel,even if other people of other origins might call the Greek take on Bechamel a custard.

        I've been avoiding making Bechamel for years because I thought it was complicated, and didn't realize it was basically French for white sauce. Which means I'll finally be attempting one of those lasagnas with bechamel.

      2. When my mother makes it she's basically making a cream sauce then takes it off the stove when it's thick and cracks few eggs in then quickly whisks it (this is for topping pasta casseroles and baking)
        I don't know if it's authentic but it's so good!

        1. For me bechamel= flour, butter, milk and stock. That's it. But adding an egg at the end does sound mighty good.... Adam

          1. No and no.

            Bechamel is flour, butter, and liquid. Mornay is bechamel and cheese.

            Mornay is classically served ON eggs, among other things, but it does not contain them.

            1. From WiKI "A Mornay sauce is a Béchamel sauce with shredded or grated cheese added. Usually, it is half Gruyère and half Parmesan, though some variations use different combinations of Gruyère, Emmental cheese, or white cheddar."

              Morney = cheese not eggs.

              Only Hollandaise has an egg in it's base. No other classic (Mother) sauce that I recall does.

              1. ok.. even with the update, as far as I understand Mornay is a bechamel with cheese.

                So a Bechamel is a roux with liquid, a Mornay is a Bechamel with chesse. NOT CREAM

                AS an OP states, the only Mother sauce with eggs is Hollandaise... or custard!

                8 Replies
                1. re: purple goddess

                  So everyone here is a bit up in arms over this. I just wanted to point out that a) I appreciate the clarification and b) Michel Roux is one of the world's most esteemed French chefs, with a long standing 3 Michelin star restaurant in London.

                  Maybe he's playing with the artistic license of his experience, I wish I could ask him why he put eggs in his Mornay recipe. That said, the recipe in question shows up in his book Eggs, I wonder if he simply used eggs as a means to put the Mornay recipe in this book. He has another book called Sauces, perhaps that book contains the "correct" version of the recipe. I'll know soon enough as I just ordered it.

                  1. re: foodsmith

                    The only reason I can see for adding whole egg to a Mornay is to tighten it up. But if I were to add any "egg" to a Mornay I'd separate the egg and add only a yolk for richness. The fat from the yolk makes sense to me but the protein from the white just doesn't work to my way of thinking. But a Mornay is usually served over eggs not with eggs in the mix. Being a purist isn't necessarily a bad thing, ya know; so I don't aplolgize. Heck, I still can't get used to the college educated news anchor who doesn't know that the second month of the year is not pronounced "Feb-yooo-ary"
                    Go get 'em purple goddess - you're a winner in my book.

                    1. re: foodsmith

                      Not up in arms, Hell.. I'd add ketchup to a Bechamel and call it Le Sauce avec Roux De La Americainne, if it meant my kids would eat it. But the purist in me wouldn't call it Bechamel.. or Mornay.

                      It may be a sauce.. and a very good sauce at that, but Mornay it aint!!

                      Same same with Cabonara. Adding peas.. or whatever, might make a might tasty dish, but it's not Cabonara!

                      1. re: foodsmith

                        Bechamel is the roux with milk (or dairy). Roux with light stock is a veloute.

                        Most of the variations on bechamel that I see in 1997 Joy of Cooking involve added flavorings, such as cheese in a Morney. But conceivably an egg, or more likely an egg yolk could be added to a bechamel, adding some richness, and color. That's so obvious a step that there has to be a name for in classic French cooking.

                        I think I seen that done for the toping of moussaka. In that case, the egg helps the sauce set into a cross between a sauce and custard during baking.

                        Hollandaise is a totally different beast. It is more of hot egg emulsion, depending on a careful balance of liquid (water) and fat (butter). It also has a distinct acid component.

                        1. re: paulj

                          Yes like the moussaka topping, I use the sauce to top a zesty meat sauced pasta casserole (egyptian dish from greek origin I'm sure) and also it comes in handy for things like meat and pine nut stuffed zucchinis in a casserole topping with the creamy sauce and lots of other things.

                        2. re: foodsmith

                          I don't have the book. Does he actually have a recipe for Mornay sauce that contains eggs? How does he incorporate them?

                          As noted above, it's a classic sauce to serve ON eggs. That alone would be reason enough to include it in the book.

                          1. re: alanbarnes

                            First, get the book. The book is pretty amazing.

                            Second, he shows it in the back as an adjunct to the sauces, and shows it atop some greens.

                            He's very creative so maybe he was varying it.

                            He incorporates 3 egg yolks (no whites) by first mixing them in with cream and then pouring into the Bechamel and allowing to complete over the next minute while stirring.

                            1. re: foodsmith

                              That's how L Biat adds the yolks to to a Mornay or Allemande.

                      2. Louis Biat, Gourmet's Basic French Cookbook, 1961

                        basic: bechamel, white roux and milk
                        veloute - white roux and white stock
                        cream sauce - basic plus cream
                        Mornay - add egg yolks and cheese to cream sauce
                        sauce supreme - veloute plus mushroom liquor and cream
                        sauce allemande - supreme plus egg yolks and more cream

                        there is also a sauce blanche, which uses a roux, water, and yolks. With a bit of lemon juice it substitues for hollandiase.

                        1 Reply
                        1. Adding egg yolks to a bechamel would make it a supreme sauce. I've never heard of a mornay with egg yolks but I can see where it may be good.

                          1. As has already been mentioned, of Escoffier's mother sauces, only emulsions contain eggs, although Carême included la sauce allemande among his basic sauces. In any case, a sauce made from veal broth, mushrooms and lemon, and bound with roux and egg yolks was once considered a basic sauce and is now "just" a very very tasty variation.

                            1. Here is the recipe from:
                              The Escoffier Cook Book,
                              Copyright, 1941, by Crown Publishers, Inc.
                              Twenty-seventh Printing, June, 1967.
                              28---BECHAMEL SAUCE Sauce Bechamel

                              …………………Quantities Required for Four Quarts………….

                              1 lp . of white roux (21). 2/3 oz. of salt, 1 pinch of mignonette
                              4 ½ quarts of boiling milk. pepper, and grated nutmeg, and
                              ½ lb. of lean veal. 1 small sprig of thyme.
                              1 minced onion.

                              Preparation.----Pour the boiling milk on the roux, which should
                              be almost cold, and whisk it well to avoid lumping. Let it boil,
                              then cook on the side of the fire. Meanwhile the lean veal
                              should have been cut into small cubes, and then fried with butter
                              in a saucepan, together with the minced onion. When the veal
                              has cooked without becoming browned, it is added to the
                              Béchamel, together with salt and the other seasonings. Let the
                              sauce boil slowly for about one hour in all, and then strain it
                              through a fine sieve into a tureen; butter the top, lest a crust
                              should form.

                              When Béchamel is intended for Lenten preparations, the veal
                              must be omitted.

                              There is another way of making the sauce. After having boiled
                              the milk, the seasoning and herbs 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.

                              I checked out about a half dozen or more recipes for Béchamel on the web, and guess what, folks? None of them come up to Escoffier’s standard! All that I found were variations of “white sauce”, a sauce so very basic Escoffier doesn’t even provide a recipe for it, though he does refer to it. However, he does give recipes for the three standard rouxs; brown, blond, and white. Béchamel uses the white roux.

                              If you’re a cookbook devotee, either for reading or for doing, I highly recommend The Escoffier Cook Book. It’s About $26.00 today, lots of used copies around for a whole lot less, the recipes are pretty clear, and it is a chance to try classic haute cuising as no one that I know of practices today. Which is a real shame, because it’s the way I learned. But, with the price of veal today, I’ll probably use more white sauces than true Bechamels!

                              1 Reply
                              1. re: Caroline1

                                One of the things I hate about CHOW is that the software doesn't hold formatting. It has squished the ingredients list of Escoffier's Bechamel recipe out of it's two column arrangement it was fed, so for clarity's sake, here are the ingredients as they should read:
                                1 lb. of white roux (21).
                                4 ½ quarts of boiling milk
                                ½ lb. of lean veal.
                                2/3 oz. of salt
                                1 pinch of mignonette pepper
                                grated nutmeg
                                1 small sprig of thyme
                                1 minced onion

                                And for the record, "mignonette pepper" can only mean coarse black pepper, or it can mean a mixture of black pepper, white pepper, and sometimes coriander or other herbs or spices. Escoffier doesn't say which he intends.

                                Sorry for any confusion.

                              2. Very slightly off topic, I've been making bechamels for some recipes using olive oil instead of butter, and it works. Not for everything, of course.