publication date: Sep 8, 2010
author/source: Fiona Beckett
Although you can buy cheese sauce in cartons it’s much cheaper - and tastier to make your own.
The traditional way is to melt some butter (about 25g), stir in an equal amount of flour and let it cook for a few seconds then gradually add about 300ml/half a pint of milk, bit by bit, stirring so it doesn’t go lumpy. Then you bring it gradually to the boil, stirring until it's thick. Which works fine but takes a bit of time.
There is a much easier way which involves putting all the ingredients in the pan together then whisking like mad with a wire ‘balloon whisk’ like this* while you bring the sauce to boiling point over a moderate heat. It sounds a bit nerve-wracking but is actually much quicker and easier.
Then once you’ve got a thick sauce take the pan off the heat and add your cheese (if you carry on cooking it at this point it can get stringy). You need about 50-75g for this amount of sauce depending how strong your cheese is. (Assuming you use cheddar. If you use a proportion of parmesan you can use less). Season with salt and pepper and a little nutmeg if you have some and you’re done.
You can pour the sauce over an ovenproof dish of freshly cooked pasta shapes such as penne (about 200g uncooked weight) or lightly steamed or boiled cauliflower, top with some more grated cheese then flash the dish under the grill until the cheese is golden brown and bubbling. Or you can roughly mix it with a portion of bolognese sauce and some cooked pasta and top with cheese for a lasagne style pasta bake.
*the only downside of this method is that if you’re using a cheap non-stick pan the balloon whisk may scratch the surface in which case you may watnt to make your sauce the traditional way, stirring it with a wooden spoon