Bechamel is to the savoury world what creme patisserie is to the dessert world - a useful "mortar" that has oodles of applications in a multitude of dishes. It's a master sauce for the more lighter sauces we know such as onion sauce, parsley sauce, and other white sauce derivatives. It gives a wonderful medium for many soups also.
Ingredients (makes 1 pint of thick bechamel. Adjust butter flour / liquid levels for lighter versions)
1 pint whole milk
1/2 scored onion, studded with 3 cloves
2 bay leaves
4 black peppercorns
2tbsp plain flour
1 tbsp butter
In one pan combine milk, studded onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, mace and nutmeg. Heat gently but do not allow to boil. Continue to stir occasionally untl onion softens. At this point keep warm on a low heat
In a seperate pan melt the butter until bubbling, then fold in the flour, mixing to a uniform paste with a wooden spoon. Add the infused milk bit by bit, whisking together until in a uniform sauce.
Simmer and stir occasionally for about 20 minutes until flour has cooked out.
Use as a master sauce for veloutes, and other white sauce derivatives.