Canelons are covered in Béchamel sauce and some cheese (a thin, crusty layer).
But not every sauce is the same!
Just like every household likes different toppings.
I did my research (lots of it!) and my testing, and settled for cheesy mix that is right in flavour and texture.
A mix of Emmental with some extra strength from Parmesan.
It’s just a cherry on top sort of thing. But of course cheese lovers can always add to it.
Some bits of butter are always added last minute, to help melt it all.
I hate the occasional little puddle of butter, so I freeze my butter and use a grater to make sure a thin, disappearing layer will be achieved.
And that right there is the kind of tip, or secret, I only share with friends! So cherish it! 🙂
Now, about the sauce.
You can cook flour in melted butter, then add milk. Maybe some nutmeg. Easy. Right?
But really, do you think Good Canelons deserve this? Just this?
I have put so much time, good ingredients and love into them. They won’t be covered in just anything basic!
I infuse the milk, I recreate the flavours of the stuffing.
So my Canelons de Rostit come with a beixamel that echoes the Rostit: its meat (and fond!), and the onions and tomatoes.
Canelons de Pagès have a hint of leek and a touch of thyme in their beixamel.
And of course the one for Canelons de Bolets is infused with dried mushrooms.
It’s never something strong, never too obvious, but it’s the kind of detail I like. I want every layer to play with the main flavours and match perfectly.
Grandmothers didn’t know what umami was. But still they instinctively chased it.
That bit of crispy cheese would defitinely give it a kick. So it became the norm. But there’s more.
Some would add some drops of tomato on the top. I loved the contrast, as a kid.
My grandma Paquita also added super thin shreds of cured ham. Just like sprinkling ham sawdust!
I tell you, those very last minutes under the broiler create some magic.
I’m happy with my customised Beixamel and top layer.
But maybe some day we could explore those options our wise grandmas discovered. God bless their aprons!