Measure the milk into a saucepan, add the onion and cloves, and bring slowly to the boil. Remove from heat, cover and leave to infuse for 5- 10 minutes. I do this in the microwave.
Melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat and stir in the flour to make a smooth paste (a roux). Cook the roux gently for a minute or two until it has a grainy texture.
Gradually stir in the warm milk a little at a time. Each addition of milk should be thoroughly stirred in. Bring the sauce to a gentle boil and allow to simmer for 2-3 minutes to ensure thorough cooking of the flour. This is important as the flavour of uncooked flour will be very apparent.
Season with salt and pepper.
At this stage we have a basic white sauce. A Béchamel Sauce simply infuses more flavour for longer (include a small piece of carrot and celery along with the onion and infuse for about an hour).
To make a Cheese Sauce to serve with fish, egg, vegetable or pasta dishes add a teaspoon of mustard and about 90-120 grams (or more) of Cheddar (and Parmesan if you wish). When making this do not add the cheese until the sauce is ready to use or serve. Stir the cheese into the thickened sauce over low heat until dissolved. Do not boil too quickly or for too long otherwise the cheese can become tough, or the sauce might curdle.
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