Cooking time: Less than 30 minutes
Makes: 1½ litres
1 small onion, peeled
1½ litres milk (6 cups)
2 bay leaves
½ teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 cup plain flour
1 teaspoon salt
Stud onion with cloves.
In a medium saucepan, combine milk, onion, bay leaves and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer, but do not boil.
Meanwhile, in a heavy based saucepan, melt butter over a medium/low heat.
Add flour and salt and cook, stirring constantly. This mixture is called a roux. It should be cooked thoroughly, 4-5 minutes (cooking the roux will eliminate a floury taste). Reduce heat.
Strain milk into a jug.
Stirring with a wooden spoon, add milk one cup at a time into roux, incorporating fully after each addition. Continue cup at a time until all milk is incorporated (if milk is added all at once the sauce will become lumpy).
Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until sauce is thick and velvety. Season to taste with salt.
Remove from heat, cover closely with cling wrap, reserve.