This is a good all purpose white sauce. In this book, it is used in several recipes, including Lasagne Verde alla Bolognese and Cannelloni al Radicchio. You can vary it by adding shredded cheese (at which point it becomes a Mornay sauce), by perfuming the milk with a fresh bay leaf or other herbs as it heats, or by stirring pesto into it, as in the recipe for Nonna’s Baked Zucchini and Mushroom Agnolotti with Pesto Béchamel.
Portions: Makes about 3 cups-720 ml
- 3 cups 720 ml whole or 2 percent milk
- 4 tbsp 55 g unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup 30 g unbleached all purpose plain
- 1 tsp kosher or fine sea salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Pinch or freshly grated nutmeg
Pour the milk into a saucepan and bring just to a boil over medium heat. Do not let it boil over. Remove the pan from the heat. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes. Add the hot milk in driblets, whisking constantly and taking care to avoid lumps and scorching. When all of the milk has been added, cook the sauce, stirring it frequently with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, for 10 to 13 minutes, or until it is thick enough to coat the back of the spoon. Season with the salt, pepper to taste, and the nutmeg, and remove from the heat.
The sauce may be stored in a tightly lidded container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat it in a saucepan over low heat, adding a splash or two of milk if necessary to loosen it.