…or if you wanna be technical, it’s called a roux. (pronounced, “rooooooo”)
You can also call it a bechamel sauce. (If you’re into Julia Child and wanna feel French-ish.)
P.S. – this post is lovingly dedicated to my sister-married-to-an-italian-who-is-still-learning-how-to-cook-but-is-an-amazing-photographer, Rebecca Cerasani, and my other friend-who-is-always-craving-this-but-lives-so-far-away-I-can’t-get-it-to-her-fresh, Sabra Kennedy.
I just love this “white sauce” – it’s so versatile for whatever you might want….
….a cream sauce to cover up some grilled asparagus.
….a rich, sharp cheesy sauce for homemade mac n cheese.
….a mellow light colored gravy for biscuits in the mornin’.
….an herb sauce for drizzling on some roasted salmon.
….a base for your own cream soups – cream of chicken, cream of mushroom, cream of celery, cream of chocolate…(oh wait, sorry.)
….or my favorite, a homemade alfredo sauce. You won’t buy another jar of stuff again.
To make the basic roux, you only need 3 ingredients…and I’d almost bet all of you have them right now:
- Butter (or some sort of whole fat – I’ve used olive oil and coconut oil before!)
- Hot Liquid (typically, this is milk, but the science is just a liquid – so you can use a broth, a wine, cream, or any sort of combinations.)
You’ll only need about 5 minutes or so…and a hungry tummy.
Start with 2 Tbsp butter. Melt it slowly over low heat in a saucepan.
Add 3 Tbsp of flour. Blend it in – I like using a nylon whisk or a wooden spoon – until the butter and flour are well mixed.
Let the butter and flour play together for a couple of minutes. Don’t let it start getting brown though – that low heat is your friend – you just want lots of bubbles. Your kids will like watching this. Cooking it for a bit gets the raw, flour-y taste out of your sauce. And it activates the thickening agents in the flour.
Remove your roux from the heat.
Then grab your 2 cups of hot liquid. For this recipe I’m using milk.
Once your your roux stops bubbling, pour in all the hot milk (or liquid) at once. I use a whisk to blend it altogether, making sure I grab all the little bits of flour and butter from the sides of the pan. By the way, don’t pour in cold milk. Unless you like lumpy sauces. Then, by all means, go for it.
Then, put your pan on the heat again. Medium high heat is best for this step. Keep stirring with your whisk until you see bubbles again. This is when the thickening magic really begins. Boil for about a minute, always stirring, and your sauce is done!
At this point, add in your flavorings:
….salt and pepper for your simple cream sauce for that asparagus.
…..1 cup of sharp grated cheddar for that mac n cheese.
….salt, pepper, and some cooked ground sausage for that gravy.
….salt, pepper, and a few fresh herbs from the garden for drizzling on that roasted salmon.
….salt, pepper, 3/4 cup of cooked, diced chicken, sauteed mushrooms, or sauteed celery for your homemade cream soups (without MSG or any other chemical nasties!)
….or, for my favorite, light salt, pepper, a clove of pressed garlic, a pinch of nutmeg, <—– this is so very important!!, and a good handful or two of parmesan cheese for a quick homemade alfredo sauce.
Who needs Olive Garden?
oh wait…I do need their breadsticks and salad…huh….