Sunday, September 2, 2012

No-fail low-fat white sauce

      White sauce....also known as béchamel sauce. It is a versatile sauce that every cook should know because it can be used in a multitude of recipes. It can be used for lasagnes, pastas, pies and for mac & cheese. Normally, you make roux using butter and flour to act as a thickener for the scalded milk. The roux should be equal proportions of plain flour and butter by weight. Normally you would melt the butter in a pan without letting it brown then mix in the flour till you get a paste. Then you would whisk milk into the flour paste.
      I used to be alright at making a white sauce, until I moved to the Netherlands. For some bizarre reason, I could never get a traditional white sauce right again. It always turned out lumpy, runny or just plain gross. Maybe it's the flour here. Maybe I never used the right amount of butter. Maybe it was just me. I got tired of trying. Then I discovered a different way to make a white sauce which, although thinner on flavour, is a lot quicker and never fails me.
      This method uses no butter at all and cornflour. It is lower in fat than a traditional béchamel sauce recipe (and maybe even gluten free)! No butter needed!
       This sauce can be used for lasagnes, mac & cheese, as a base for a lovely mushroom sauce, as a savoury pie filling etc....

Easy white sauce
makes a little less than 2 cups of sauce

2 cups semi-skimmed milk
1 bay leaf
1/8 stock cube
1 heaped TBSP cornflour
salt & pepper

1. Put the milk into a saucepan. 
2. Take out 2 tablespoons of the milk and put in a small bowl/ramekin.
3. Add the bay leaf to the milk in the saucepan and heat over a low flame.
4. Mix the cornflour into the remaining milk in the small bowl and mix to form a thin paste.
5. When the milk in the saucepan is hot, add the stock cube and stir to dissolve. 
6. Just when the milk starts to boil, remove the bay leaf and pour in the cornflour mixture.
7. Stir gently. Soon the sauce should start to bubble up and thicken. Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for 1 minute. 
*If the sauce is too thin for your liking, dissolve another 1/2 TBSP cornflour in 1/2 TBSP of room-temperature water and stir into the sauce. Let the sauce simmer for 1 minute.
9. Add salt/pepper and that's it! Done!

Cheese sauce

1 quantity white sauce
1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese
a little mustard powder (optional)

1. Simply stir the grated cheese and mustard powder into the sauce while it is simmering for the last 1 minute.
*Use more or less cheese, if that's what you like.

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