The Basics: Bechamel Sauce

You can't really get more basic than a mother sauce, and bechamel is my very favorite mother sauce. It's the base for a whole horde of other sauces, is marvelous to add to the vegetables in a pot or shepherd's pie, and is a great way to add richness to recipes in a pinch. Plus, in learning to make bechamel you also learn how to make a roux, so really today is a twofer! Bechamel Sauce 2 tbsp Earth Balance 2 tbsp all purpose flour 1.5-2.5 cups almond milk 1/2 small onion 2 cloves 1 bay leaf Press the cloves into the onion and set aside. Heat a pan over medium-low heat and completely melt the Earth Balance. Add the flour and whisk to combine, whisking near constantly. Make sure to completely blend the flour and "butter." It will be clumpy, but don't worry! It will start to bubble up and after a couple of minutes will have a kind of light, toasted smell to it. At this point add 1/4-1/2 a cup of almond milk in a steady stream, whisking while you pour. Completely blend the mixture, whisking until smooth. Slowly add the rest of the milk, in two more additions. Once you've added 1.5 cups of milk, add the clove-studded onion and the bay leaf, and adjust the heat so the sauce is at a very mild simmer. Cook for 10-15 minutes, whisking frequently and adding more almond milk if you'd like to keep the sauce a little thinner. For most of my uses I like a thick sauce so I usually only use 1.5 cups. Remove from heat, remove the onion and bay leaf, and you're all set! You now have a classic and heavenly base from which you can create endless variations!

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