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pinksaint Dec 16, 2009 01:48 PM

I attempted a bechamel sauce last night without knowing what that is and the texture was grainy. Is that how it is supposed to be?

  1. f
    fourunder Dec 16, 2009 02:49 PM

    Two very overlooked steps when using cornstarch or flour to make sauces or gravys....you have to cook both out for at least 20 minutes....30 minutes is better to insure you do not have the grainy or gritty texture you describe. When you make the roux for becamel, you must make sure the butter and flour is completely mixed together to avoid any lumps. Bring your sauce slowly to a boil and whisk frequently. If you do not like the consistency of the sauce, you can add more mill or reduce the volume by cooking longer.....If you are adding more milk, just be sure to temper the cold milk before introducing it to the sauce pot.

    4 Replies
    1. re: fourunder
      KTinNYC Dec 16, 2009 03:04 PM

      I've never heard of cooking cornstarch for 30 minutes. The beauty of cornstarch is that it thickens quickly. In fact, prolonged heating of cornstarch causes it to lose it's thickening power.

      1. re: KTinNYC
        fourunder Dec 16, 2009 03:24 PM


        Not the cornstarch itself....the gravy. I'm talking about large amounts like a gallon or more. I've seen a lot of gravy made in different kitchens.....and I've never seen gravy break down even simmering for an hour.

        The cornstarch always starts out as a slurry made with cold water and added as necessary......like in a Chinese kitchen.

      2. re: fourunder
        ChristinaMason Dec 16, 2009 03:04 PM

        Or just pull the pot off the heat for a moment and be sure to whisk like hell. Not to start that bechamel debate again... ;)

        1. re: ChristinaMason
          fourunder Dec 16, 2009 03:26 PM


          Good decision......I fear I could not withstand my head exploding three times in one day.


      3. todao Dec 16, 2009 02:43 PM

        Bechamel sauce is simply a combination of flour, milk, salt and butter. Some cooks like to add a bit of spice (nutmeg, etc.) depending on the dish. The trick to success with a bechamel is melt the butter over medium low heat, then add the flour and quickly incorporate it into the melted butter and cook it over medium heat (stirring all the while to keep the mixture smooth) until the mixture is lightly browned. Then add heated milk (heated to almost a boil but not boiling) about 1/2 to 1 cup at a time while using a whisk to work in the milk and maintain its smoothness, the bring it to (but not beyond) the boiling point and stir in the seasonings.
        If you did that, you shouldn't have a grainy sauce.

        3 Replies
        1. re: todao
          bushwickgirl Dec 16, 2009 02:56 PM

          Todao, did you perhaps read the Bechamel link I posted, it's full of engaging and often controversial information on a relatively simple subject, but, as you know, it's the simple things that confound...

          1. re: bushwickgirl
            fourunder Dec 16, 2009 03:02 PM


            I just finished reading the link......and for the second time today......my head exploded.


            1. re: fourunder
              c oliver Dec 16, 2009 04:13 PM

              I just read about 2/3 of it and stopped when I could just barely hear the snaps, crackles and pops of my cranium. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

        2. bushwickgirl Dec 16, 2009 02:39 PM

          No it shouldn't be grainy.
          Bechamel is a white sauce made with milk, seasoned with aromatics like onion, bay and a clove or two, nutmeg and thickened with roux (flour + butter, whisked together and cooked briefly.) It can range from thin to thick; density depends on it's application. Here's a link for a very basic Bechamel, to get you started:


          Read this recent Chow link for a ton of Bechamel advice, formulas and controversy:

          1. GenevieveCa Dec 16, 2009 02:27 PM

            Bechamel sauce is supposed to be smooth and creamy.
            How did you make it?
            Did you substitute any of the ingredients?

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