Versatile white sauce is the basis for many dishes such as macaroni and cheese and scalloped potatoes. The foolproof way to attain a perfectly smooth sauce is to have the milk hot when added to the butter and flour. It uses an extra pot, but as you become more proficient, this cautionary measure won't be necessary.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
Freshly ground pepper
- Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan.
- Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown, about 2 minutes.
- Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat.
- To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.
Makes about 1 cup.
For Cheese Sauce: Stir in 1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with a pinch of cayenne pepper.
Tip: How hot should the milk be? Warm the milk on low heat just until little bubbles begin to form at the edges. Then remove from heat.