Once you get to know me, even just a little bit, you soon find out that I am an avid fan of cheese!! One of my favourite meals is just cooked pasta with cheese sauce (and maybe some peas to make me feel healthy!!)
As I was making my cheese sauce the other day I was recalling friends who have asked me how I make mine and it thickens every time without fail, so I thought I would share it with you.
Now, this method may not agree with you “bung-it in” types (I wish I could cook like that sometimes!!) but then I’m not sure that would GUARANTEE a perfect sauce every time. So, there is some weighing involved but if you, like me, have a set of scales and you can put your saucepan directly on them and then zero – it really is simplicity itself.
Milk (any variety will do, though I tend to go for semi-skimmed)
Butter or Marg
Dried Herbs (optional)
Cheese (I tend to use whatever is in the fridge… more about this later)
So put your saucepan on the scales and weigh your milk. For a normal cheese sauce for, say, cauliflower cheese or pasta I would go for 300ml. For a bigger cheese sauce for a lasagna made in your rectangular baker I go for 500ml. You will soon learn how much sauce you need for your meals.
Zero your scales and add a tenth of this of plain flour (if you had 300ml milk you need 30g flour/ 500ml milk = 50g flour and so on…) and equal amounts of butter (ie 30g or 50g or…). Add salt and pepper and small shake of herbs if using.
Now place the pan on a medium high heat, pick up your whisk and stir gently and pretty constantly until the sauce comes to the boil and thickens!! (Which it WILL!). Turn the heat down to low and add a good half teaspoon of english mustard (makes ALL the difference to the taste).
Now its time to chop up (into small ish chunks which are easy to melt)and add your cheese. I tend to use small amounts of 3 or 4 different types of cheeses. I always have some cheddar in the house so that goes in. I usually also have some parmesan so a few small pieces of that goes in. If I have a blue cheese like stilton I add a small sliver ( maybe 1/2 oz at the most) which really brings the cheesiness out. Don’t add too much blue or it will overpower the flavour. From experience brie and the like don’t tend to work too well as the skin doesn’t melt so well. Any leftover mascarpone or ricotta can be used too to add to the creaminess. It really does just depend whats in the fridge. Also, don’t be afraid of adding cheese which looks a bit hardened this is a FAB way of using up leftovers before they grow white and green fluff!!!
Allow to simmer for a couple of minutes, stirring occasionally. And then you have your perfect cheese sauce!