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The NoMad restaurant in NYC introduced their riff on this Italian-American classic at their pop-up restaurant Mamma Giudara's, which was inspired by Mamma Leone's, a favorite restaurant of Rachael's.
For the marinara sauce, heat the oil in a large pot over low heat. Add the onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until completely tender, about 20 minutes. Add the tomatoes to the pot and bring to a simmer. Using butcher’s twine, tie the basil, thyme, and bay leaf into a sachet and add to the tomatoes. Cook the sauce over very low heat, stirring occasionally to prevent burning, until reduced by half, about 6 hours. Remove and discard the herb bundle and grind the sauce through the small holes of a food mill. Season with salt. Keep warm.
For the bechamel sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan over low heat. Add the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until the flour is cooked out but the mixture hasn’t browned, about 5 minutes. While cooking the flour, combine the milk, garlic, and thyme in a separate saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. When the flour is cooked out, add the simmering milk and whisk continuously until mixture returns to a simmer. Strain the sauce through a chinois and season with salt. Keep warm.