Nobody pretends that béchamel is for dieters. It’s a carefully-prepared mixture of flour, butter, milk and heavy cream which adds a creamy layer to the lucky dish you’re adding it to. Add plenty of grated cheese, and you’ve got the base for perfect macaroni and cheese no matter what happens. Our second-favorite way to use this rich stuff is in moussaka, a Greek dish bearing resemblance to lasagna. Or maybe lasagna bears resemblance to moussaka. We’ll let the Greeks and Italians fight that one out.
This recipe calls for the addition of Greek yogurt, which adds extra creaminess and a tangy flavor that’s welcome in a world of so much heavy dairy.
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/2 medium onion, peeled
- 2 cloves
- 1 1/2 cups whole milk
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
- freshly ground nutmeg
- 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
- Attach the bay leaf to the onion half by piercing it with the 2 cloves. Set aside.
- Combine the milk and cream in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cook without stirring for about 5 minutes, or just until the mixture begins to simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Heat the butter in another medium heavy saucepan over medium heat. When melted and hot, add the flour and cook, stirring constantly until the mixture is thick and smooth. Cook, stirring constantly for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisking constantly to prevent lumps from forming, add the hot milk mixture in a slow steady stream.
- When well blended, return the mixture to medium heat. Add the onion half and bring to a simmer. Simmer for 10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg to taste. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
- When cool, fold in the yogurt and set aside until ready to use.