Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Basic white sauce - A versatile staple for the boonies cook

A basic white sauce is a versatile addition to any cook's repertoire and can be easily modified to suit many of the ingredients that you have in your house. I admit, I mostly make white sauce to use in pasta dishes, but you can also use it on just about anything. 

A basic white sauce has four main ingredients: milk, garlic, butter and flour.

First, melt 2 tbsp. of butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Saute 2 or 3 cloves of garlic (minced) until it becomes translucent and fragrant. Add 2 tbsp. flour and mix into a paste.  Add 1 cup of milk (a little at a time at first so your sauce doesn't become lumpy) and whisk. Heat the mixture (stirring constantly) until it starts to bubble, then turn the heat down to medium low and cook until the sauce thickens.

You can adjust the consistency of your white sauce by adding or subtracting butter and flour. Use 1 tbsp of butter and flour for a runnier sauce, or 3 tbsp butter and flour for a thicker sauce.

Now to get creative!

To make a cheese sauce for broccoli or cauliflower, add 1/4 c. shredded cheddar cheese to the thickened sauce and whisk until it melts.

For an interesting pasta dish, add 1 tsp. grated lemon rind and 2 tbsp fresh lemon juice, pepper, and 1/4 c. parmesan cheese. Mix with cooked pasta, spinach, and chopped tomatoes in a casserole and bake 20 minutes in the oven.

To make clam sauce, substitute 1/4 c. of clam juice for 1/4 c. of milk, add a drained can of baby clams. Mix with cooked spaghetti or linguine.

To make homemade mac and cheese: add 1/2 tsp dry mustard with the flour and 1/4 tsp. paprika and 1/4 c. parmesan cheese with the milk.  Mix with cooked macaroni, cubed ham, 2 c. spinach leaves, and 1 c. cubed cheddar cheese in a casserole.  Top with 1/2 c. grated cheese and 1/4 c. breadcrumbs.  Bake 20 minutes.  [this is a great way to use up leftovers from a Sunday ham - it's one of my hubby's favorite meals]

To make a delicious mushroom sauce, saute sliced mushrooms and garlic with the butter until they soften, add 1 tbsp thyme and some cubed blue cheese to the thickened sauce.

The possibilities are nearly endless!  What is your favorite addition to white sauce?

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