Makes 2 cups.
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
pinch of nutmeg (optional)
pinch of cayenne (optional)
1. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed pot
2. Stir in 3 flour and cook over meidum heat for 3 minutes
3. Add milk bit by bit, whisking constantly. To avoid lumps, completely whisk in each addition of milk before adding the next. If it still becomes clumpy, strain through a sieve after all the milk has been added and return to the burner to cook.
4. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring all the time. Turn down to a bare simmer, and cook for 2-30 minutes, stirring occasionally to keep sauce from sticking.
5. Season with salt, and nutmeg and/cayenne if you enjoy those flavors.
(Use sauce right away or keep warm. Sauce will solidify if cooled).
- To make a thicker sauce for a souffle, use more flour and less milk: 4 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons flour, and 1 1/2 cups milk.
- When making a vegetable gratin, replace up to 1 cup of milk with vegetable cooking water (either water the vegetables were cooked with or squeezed out of greens).
*This recipe is adapted from Alice Water's The Art of Simple Food