Béchamel Sauce


5 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups warm whole milk (I use 2 percent)
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
pinch of white pepper (I use black pepper)
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg (I use dried)


In a 2 quart saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk until smooth, about 2 minutes. Gradually add the warm milk, whisking constantly to prevent any lumps from forming. Simmer over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thick, smooth, and ream, about 10 minutes. Do not allow Béchamel sauce to boil. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste. (The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead. Cool, then cover and refrigerate.)