My mOm makes the best Bechamel on the planet.
My Mom’s Bechamel:
4 Tbl butter, I like unsalted
4 Tbl flour
2 c milk, warmed
1/2 medium onion, studded with 4 – 6 whole cloves
A bay leaf
A few grains cayenne pepper
A few gratings of nutmeg
Salt, up to 1 tsp
White pepper, a dash or to taste
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter until it foams, then add the flour and stir with a whisk for 2 to 3 minutes. This is the roux.
Remove the pan from the heat for a moment, and slowly whisk in the warmed milk, whisking continuously, until all of it has been added to the saucepan. Whisk until smooth, no lumps, and then return to the heat.
Stirring occasionally, bring the sauce to a boil, then turn the heat to low, you want a bare simmer. Add the onion, bay leaf, salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg.
Let simmer on low for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste again for salt and pepper. Sometimes it’s nice to add a drop of lemon juice. Fish out the onion and the bay leaf, count the cloves and if necessary fish them out with a fork. Be sure to lick the fork, mmmm!