Potatoes might just be the most versatile ingredient out there. Whether you fry, boil, mash or bake them, they will always be delicious. And this recipe is no different. We promise this potato and onion bake in Béchamel sauce is as good as it sounds.
What is Béchamel sauce?
There are a few theories as to how béchamel sauce was invented. Some believe that it came over to France from Italy in the 1500s. Others believe that Louis de Béchameil invented the sauce in the 1700s whilst being the chief steward to King Louis XIV. And the first documented bechamel sauce appeared in 1733 in a cookbook named The Modern Cook.
Not all of us might consider ourselves to be modern cooks, but knowing how to make a basic Béchamel sauce is already a step in the right direction. The modern-day Béchamel sauce mainly consists of three ingredients: butter, flour and milk. So it can be quite bland, but that is where the extra herbs and spices play a major role in the flavour of the dish. In this potato bake recipe, we will be adding Italian seasoning, black pepper and salt.
The trick to a perfectly smooth sauce is to never stop stirring. As the butter and flour are being combined and melted, it is important to keep stirring the mixture to avoid lumps from forming. Also remember to add the milk slowly, little by little. As soon as you feel like your sauce is nearing perfection, try the wooden spoon test. Dip your spoon in the sauce and run your finger down the spoon. If the sauce stays separated, you’ve reached the perfect Béchamel sauce consistency.
Potato Bake Tip
If you are pressed for time (or too hungry to wait), boil the potatoes for a bit before layering them with the onion and Bechamel sauce mixture. This will definitely take a few minutes off of the baking time.
- 5 tbsp butter
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 5 tbsp all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp coarse salt
- 1 tsp Italian Seasoning
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 5 cups whole milk
- 2 & ½ cups cheese (shredded)
- 8 medium sized potatoes (Peeled and thinly sliced)
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees Celsius / 356 degrees Fahrenheit
- Grease a deep baking dish and set it aside, in a medium saucepan, melt butter over medium heat, Add flour, salt, pepper, and Italian seasoning and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture is pale golden for about 5 minutes.
- Whisking constantly, pour in 2 1/2 cups of milk, cook for a few minutes and add the remaining 2 1/2 cups of milk, whisk until smooth, then cook mixture stirring constantly until it starts to boil.
- Reduce heat to low and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and is very creamy about 8 to 10 minutes (Be careful it does not burn), taste and adjust for salt and pepper.
- Remove from heat and stir in 1 1/2 cup of shredded cheese until melted.
- In the prepared bowl, add a layer of sliced onions and then potatoes then alternatively with the bechamel sauce, top with the remaining 1 cup of mozzarella cheese and transfer the dish into the oven.
- Bake for 1 hour or 1 hour and 10 minutes until the potatoes are tender.