White sauce

White sauce

By
From
Leiths How to Cook
Makes
300 ml
Photographer
Peter Cassidy

The most basic, but also the most common of all the roux-based sauces, the classic white sauce is used for a wide range of dishes – either as an integral part of the dish or as an accompanying sauce.

Ingredients

Quantity Ingredient
20g butter
20g plain flour
300ml milk
salt
ground white pepper

Method

  1. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over a gentle to medium heat, then add the flour. Cook the roux for 1 minute, stirring well with a wooden spoon to ensure even cooking.
  2. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, a little at a time, stirring and incorporating the milk well into the roux as it is added. It is important not to add the milk too quickly or lumps will result, which are difficult to beat out. As more of the milk is added the sauce will start to loosen and thin out. Once half has been incorporated, add the remaining milk in generous additions, and return the pan to the heat.
  3. Increase the heat to medium to high and stir the sauce constantly as it comes to the boil (it has to boil in order to thicken). Once it has come to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Season with salt and white pepper to taste.

Variations

  • Béchamel sauce: Heat the milk in a saucepan until scalding, then take off the heat and infuse with ¼ peeled onion, 1 bay leaf, 1 mace blade, a few parsley stalks and 4 white peppercorns. Allow the infused milk to cool and absorb the flavours, then strain before proceeding as for the main recipe. This sauce is generally used for lasagne.

    Mornay sauce: Reduce the butter and flour quantities to 10 g each. Make the white sauce as above, adding a pinch each of mustard powder and cayenne pepper with the flour. After simmering the sauce for 2 minutes, remove it from the heat and add 75 g grated strong Cheddar or Gruyère. Stir the cheese through the hot sauce to melt it. Season to taste. Do not reheat the sauce after the cheese is added as the cheese may become grainy, greasy or stringy. This classic sauce is used for macaroni cheese and cauliflower cheese.

    Parsley sauce: Heat the milk in a saucepan until scalding, then add ¼ onion and a bay leaf. Take off the heat and set aside to cool and absorb the flavours. Strain the infused milk and make the sauce as for the main recipe. Finally, stir in 1 tablespoon finely chopped parsley. This sauce is often served with white fish.

    Soubise sauce: Sweat a very finely diced onion in 30 g butter until it is very soft. Make a béchamel sauce and add the onion (soubise) and 50 ml double cream. If a smoother texture is required the sauce can be processed in a blender. This sauce is typically served as an accompaniment to lamb.
Tags:
Leiths School of food and wine
cookery course
Back to top
    No results found
    No more results
      No results found
      No more results
        No results found
        No more results
          No results found
          No more results
            No results found
            No more results
              No results found
              No more results
              Please start typing to begin your search
              We're sorry but we had trouble running your search. Please try again