50g/2 oz butter
50g/2 oz flour
500ml/1 pt milk
A flavouring – see below
- Put the butter in a large jug or bowl
- Heat in the microwave on full power for about 30 seconds
- When melted remove from the microwave
- Mix the flour into the butter t create a thick paste
- Pour a little of the milk into the paste
- Beat/whisk it in to thin the paste a little
- Gradually beat in the rest of the milk, starting with a little at a time and increasing the quantity added as the sauce gets thinner, the idea being to avoid lumps forming.
- Put the sauce back in the microwave and cook on full power for 2 minutes
- Remove and whisk thoroughly
- Cook the sauce for about 8-10 minutes, 2 minutes at a time, whisking every time you remove it from the microwave.
- The sauce should now be hot, thickened and smooth. If not, whisk until it is .
- If it is, well done, but unfortunately there’s not a lot you can do wit it because it won’t actually taste of very much because it needs something to flavour it.
Flavouring the sauce
- At the very least put in a pinch nutmeg right at the beginning when you are mixing the butter and flour
- For a more intense flavour, before making the sauce, gently bring the milk to the boil in a small saucepan with a bay leaf and an onion studded with 2 cloves. When hot , turn off the heat and leave to infuse for 20 mins after which you remove the flavourings and make the sauce with the milk.
- To achieve a silkier sauce, add a small tub of ricotta, mascarpone or any other cream cheese.
- Add some prawns (even tinned shrimps works) for a lovely seafood sauce – even better make it with seafood stock (Find a Portuguese shop and look for a small box of Knorr Caldo de Marisco – it’s wonderful and I don’t know why it’s not sold in ‘normal’ supermarkets)
- Once the sauce is starting to thin a little add 1 tbsp. French mustard and 50g/2oz strong cheddar cheese, cubed. As the sauce develops, the cheese will melt into it creating a lovely velvety cheese sauce
- Make the sauce with chicken stock (hot or cold) instead of milk to achieve a smooth chicken sauce. Add 1-2 tbsp. crème fraîche for pure luxury.
- By now you probably get the idea – that once you know how to achieve that lovely silky texture, you can more or less do what you like with it.