This classic white sauce should be part of any cook’s repertoire, especially as the weather starts to chill. You can always enhance the sauce with your own choice of flavourings. Makes 500 ml
1 small onion
12 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
1 blade of mace
4 parsley stalks
500 ml milk
25 g butter
25 g flour
salt and freshly ground white pepper
Slice the onion into a saucepan with the slicing drum on the rotor vegetable slicer/shredder on speed 4. Add the clove, peppercorns, bay leaf, blade of mace, parsley stalks and milk. Bring to the boil over a gentle heat, then immediately remove from the heat, cover and infuse for 15 minutes.
Strain the milk and discard the flavourings. Melt the butter in a heavy-based saucepan, sprinkle in the flour and stir to mix. Cook over a gentle heat for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Gradually add the milk and keep stirring until the sauce is smooth.
Cook the béchamel for 5 minutes over a low heat to cook out the flour and thicken the sauce. Remove from the heat and add a flavouring of your choice or use as is. Cover the béchamel with clingfilm if you are not planning to use it immediately; this will prevent a skin from forming on the surface as it cools.