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This version of the bechamel sauce is from Marcella Hazan's cookbook. Use another you are familar with--or compare this with others.
2 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
In a small pan, heat the milk until it comes to the very edge of a boil.
While you are heating the milk, melt the butter over low heat in a heavy enameled iron saucepan of 4 to 6 cups capacity. When the butter is melted, add all the flour, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. Let the butter and flour bubble for 2 minutes without ceasing to stir. Do not let the flour become colored.
Turn off the heat and add the hot milk 2 tablespoons at a time, stirring it constantly into the flour-and-butter mixture. As soon as the first 2 tablespoons have been incorporated into the mixture, add another 2 tablespoons, always stirring with your trusty spoon. When you have added ½ cup milk to the mixture, you can start adding ¼ cup at a time, until you have added it all. (Never add more than ¼ cup at one time.)
When all the milk has been incorporated, turn on the heat to low, add the salt, and stir-cook until the sauce is as dense as thick cream. If you need it thinner, cook a little less.
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