Classic and creamy béchamel sauce doesn't include cheese, but we love the nutty pop from Parmesan. Go traditional or play with the flavor: add a little shredded Cheddar, smoked Gouda or even fresh goat cheese.
Put the milk in a glass measuring cup and microwave until just warm, about 1 minute.
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the flour and whisk until combined. Continue to whisk until the mixture bubbles a bit, but does not brown, 1 to 2 minutes.
Gradually pour in the warm milk while whisking constantly. Bring to a boil, whisking often and occasionally running a rubber spatula around the edges of the saucepan to prevent burning. When the sauce is boiling, reduce to a simmer and cook until thickened to a nice coating consistency, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the Parmesan, if using, and stir until the sauce is smooth. Season with salt and pepper.
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