How to make a fluffy béchamel?

foodonastump

I’ve had moussaka that has a really light and fluffy béchamel, and I’d like to recreate that. I like ATK/CI’s moussaka recipe a lot but I’d like to tweak this part. Any ideas?

Here are their ingredients:



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gardengal48 (PNW Z8/9)

A "fluffy" bechamel - like you would find with moussaka or pastitsio - involves the incorporation of eggs...or egg yolks.

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 quart whole milk, warmed until hot
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Whisk in the flour and then gradually whisk in the hot milk. Cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thickened. Stir in the salt, remove from heat and let cool. When the sauce is lukewarm, whisk in the eggs. Set aside.
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foodonastump

Thanks a lot I’ll give that a try!

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plllog

Yep. Eggs=fluff. I would think whites, for their structural skill and protein, but whole eggs are standard.

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shambo

That was what I was gong to suggest too. My family’s moussaka recipe has a topping of super thick béchamel with beaten eggs added. It puffs up and browns nicely. I also like that it adds a nice, slightly firm texture to the casserole. I personally dislike moussaka or pastitsio with just béchamel. The resulting texture of the casserole is too mushy for me.

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foodonastump

Thanks for the agreement, plllog and shambo.

Shambo - Just looked at your recipe. And the picture with it. Yum. I really need to revisit your collection.

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shambo

I need to make some moussaka too. It’s been way to long since my last batch. Your post reminded me.

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Lars

I've not seen Shambo's moussaka recipe. Where did you find it?

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foodonastump

I went back and looked at the cookbook. What I find interesting is that for all their supposed scouting of recipes and testing, they did my even mention eggs or the omission thereof. Only thing they said is they wanted a thicker béchamel and incrementally added flour.

Lars - Sorry I was about to post her site but then realized it identifies her. So I’ll leave that up to her to decide.

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Lars

FOAS, I found it. She posted a link to it back in 2012. I like her recipe because it is not heavy on the spices, allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg. I generally cut back on these, as I do not want them to overpower the dishes, especially the cinnamon. For this reason, I avoid Moroccan recipes, but I love Algerian.

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shambo

FOAS, that is weird about the recipe. Honestly, most recipes I’ve come across include eggs in the béchamel topping, so the omission is unusual. That said, I’ve had just plain béchamel in some restaurant offerings. I’ve even had the cream sauce in the middle of the casserole. I really didn’t like that version. Way too mushy. One of my Greek friends used to make the topping with a lot more eggs and semolina as the thickener. Actually, her mother and mine used to use Cream of Wheat back in the days before semolina was readily available.

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plllog

Sometimes lasagna has besciamella in the layers. Do you think sometimes these things crossbreed?

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foodonastump

Just reporting back - eggs was the ticket! Made a good recipe much better. Thanks guys!

The whole CI thing still leaves be a bit perplexed but whatever.

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Louiseab Ibbotson

Sham o, I’d love to see your recipe. YouhD me at thick. I usually just double the custard in my recipe.

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WalnutCreek Zone 7b/8a

I would love to have your recipe, too, Shambo. A few years ago, you graciously posted many of your wonderful Greek recipes, and I saved them all. However, my computer was hit with ransomewear and I lost everything on it because I refused to pay the perpetrator $5,000 to un-encrypt my computer. You can message me. TIA.

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plllog

What's to be perplexed about? CI is well known for having weird recipes. They suit middle America, and I don't doubt they taste fine, but I always get the feeling that they don't cook as well as we do. Maybe it's the whole notion of cooking by commitee that test kitchen implies? One of the biggest regrets of my work life is adhering to the tastes of a commitee. The resulting design was insipid, even though it was ehat they wanted. It was replaced several years later, I assume because everybody else thought so too. I'm not a stickler for authenticity in home cooking, but one of the great pleasures of moussaka is that lovely, sweet and creamy béchamel topping contrasting with the bite and savoriness of the nightshades.

Hm... My mother always says you have to know how to eat in order to know how to cook. Maybe they never did a sampling of different versions of moussaka? Maybe they only knew a kind without eggs, which maybe comes from a family whose chickens weren't thriving or were saving their eggs for the toothless and querulsome elders or someone in the household was allergic to eggs!

I'm not Greek, not even a drop, but we have a Greek neighborhood not so far away. I've has moussaka with and without potato, with lamb and with beef and vegetarian, with cheese topping and with tall béchamel, and even once with a soft, lasagna-like thin béchamel. Comparing them all, I like the eggplant cut thin and not too oily, aliums, tomatoes, herbs, lamb, no potato, and a fluffy bechamel, but not more than about 3/8" tall. By the time it's 1/2" tall, it sort of becomes its own entity, which separates from the rest, and tastes greasy as too much of a good thing. So I think I make a pretty good moussaka. But would a committee? And would anyone of Greek background think it was "right"? That I couldn't tell you.

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Louiseab Ibbotson

I love moussaka! I learned years ago to just brush the eggplant slices with olive oil and broil. That way they don’t soak up as much oil. I do use potatoes and also broil them.

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foodonastump

Plllog what perplexed me was not their final recipe but their omission of an apparently generally used key ingredient without mention. They change things up from “standard” frequently; sometimes I agree and sometimes I disagree but it usually comes with explanation. That’s all.

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plllog

Ah. But that could just be that they like the thin, unfluffy béchamel better, and didn't mention it because they don't want to do it that way. Which is a way way shorter way of saying what's in the stream of consciousness above. I have been served it made that way. It's not unheard of.

The impotant thing is uour good outcome!

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