3 Tablespoons Butter
2 Tablespoons All-purpose Flour
2 cups Whole Milk
¼ teaspoon freshly ground Black Pepper
1 Bay Leaf
¼ teaspoon Salt
¼ teaspoon grated Nutmeg
Additional salt and pepper to taste
Makes about 2 Cups
In a medium sized saucepan melt the butter. Sprinkle in the flour, and stir with a wooden spoon until well blended. Cook, stirring, for 2 to 3 minutes until it is a golden brown. This thin paste is called a roux. Remove the roux from the heat.
In separate medium saucepan heat the milk, pepper, bay leaf, salt and nutmeg until milk is steaming. Remove the bay leaf.
Return the roux to the heat. Slowly pour the steaming milk into the roux, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Continue stirring over medium heat for 3 to 6 minutes. When the mixture thickens, take it off the heat. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
If you would like to make the béchamel in advance, dot the surface with additional butter or place a piece of buttered waxed paper directly on the surface of the sauce to prevent a skin from forming. Gently re-heat the sauce before using (don’t cook).