Some people, especially those of a kitchen-shy disposition, tend to think that sauces are difficult to make. This is not necessarily so. Basic white sauce is surprisingly simple and, in the guise of cheese sauce, it is a versatile companion to a variety of dishes. If you remember the following two simple rules, you can't go wrong...
Add ingredients gradually
For your cheese sauce you will need to have the following ingredients ready to use:
- 1 tablespoon butter or margarine
- 1 tablespoon plain flour (sieved)
- Half a pint of milk (semi-skimmed is fine)
- 4oz grated hard cheese (such as Cheddar or Double Gloucester). You can add extra cheese for a thicker or cheesier sauce.
- Salt (to taste)
- Fresh ground black pepper (optional)
Here comes the tricky bit, as many chefs would have you believe.
First, gently melt the butter or margarine in a saucepan over a low heat. Exercise some patience, and keep the heat low, or the butter will burn, and will make your sauce taste nasty.
Next, add the sieved flour and mix to form a smooth paste, keeping the heat low, the mixture will thicken. This is called a 'roux'.
Now very gradually add the milk a little at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition to keep the sauce smooth. Any lumps now, and you may as well give up! After initially becoming thick, the paste will become thin and smooth as you add more milk.
Add your salt and pepper as required, then slightly raise the heat (do not boil) and sprinkle in your grated cheese, stirring constantly.
Once the cheese has melted (raise the heat a little more if necessary), bring the sauce to the boil, stirring constantly. Allow the sauce a minute or so to thicken, then reduce the heat, and stir occasionally.