– Butter. Flour. Milk. Salt & Pepper –
So many dishes – both savoury and sweet – call for a white sauce. Mixing the flour with melting butter (the roux) can seem tricky at first but once you get the hang of it is fairly straight forward. For best results heat the milk up before adding to the roux. That all said I have often prepared this with unheated milk and it still works though it takes longer for the sauce to thicken. This book is about becoming a master cook not a master chef – so if there are one or two small lumps in the sauce don’t fret!
Begin by melting a large pat of butter over a medium heat. When the butter has turned to liquid add 2-3 tsp. of flour whisking it continuously into the butter. Gradually add around one litre of heated milk whilst continuing to whisk in order to disperse any lumps. If it is hasn’t thickened enough mix another table-spoon or two of either arrow-root or flour with some water in a small cup before pouring into the simmering sauce. (Just sprinkling more flour into the sauce will result in clumps of flour forming and not dispersing correctly.) If it gets too thick add some more milk until you are happy with the consistency and texture of your basic white sauce.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add any cheese of your choice (roquefort or cheddar or parmesan or emmenthal or whatever cheese you fancy) – to the sauce as it begins to thicken– great for macaroni cheese, lasagne, cauliflower cheese, croque monsieur, mousaka …..
Chop a bunch of parsley (flat or curly) finely and add to the sauce. A favourite in the UK where it is served with boiled ham or white fish.
Onion & Cloves Sauce (Onion Pique)
Cut an onion in half. Attach a bay leaf to the onion by piercing three cloves to the side of the onion. Heat the onion, bay-leaf and cloves in the milk for roughly twenty minutes before adding to the roux. A truly wonderful savoury sauce. Add left over chopped bread and turn into a bread-sauce best served with chicken or turkey.
Add home-made bread crumbs to serve a bread sauce (see onion pique above).
Add one or two tbs. of your favourite mustard. Excellent with a bit of fresh cream and works really well with most pork and ham dishes.
This one comes courtesy of Hilary Kathleen Garnett née Fawcett (Grandma) who preferred it to brandy butter at Christmas – as do I! Prepare the white sauce, add as much sugar as you like and as much brandy as you feel you can spare. Seriously good stuff!