Storified by Arya McLean· Wed, Apr 17 2013 22:42:14
White sauce is the basis of hundreds of casseroles, soups, vegetable, and meat sauces. When you know how to make a white sauce, you know how to make veloute sauce, cheese sauce, onion sauce, curry sauce, and others. You can buy white sauce packets and, while some are good, others taste artificial.
Nothing tastes as good as homemade sauce. I've been cooking for decades, but sometimes my sauce is lumpy because I am not paying close attention to what I am doing. Follow these tips and you will have a smooth white sauce every time.
1. Use a heavy-bottomed pan. This tip comes from the Epicurious website. Like most recipes, the recipe for white sauce on the website starts with butter.
2. Warm milk beforehand. This tip also comes from the Epicurious website. However, you can make a smooth sauce with cold milk if you are careful.
3. Stir/whisk the sauce constantly. According to the cooks.com website, you should stir the sauce constantly until it boils. Reduce the heat and cook a bit more, whisking constantly, until the sauce is smooth and thick.
4. Watch for sticking. Sometimes the flour in the sauce sticks to the bottom rim of the pan. You can feel this with the spoon or whisk when it starts to happen. To prevent lumping, remove the sauce from the heat, and scrape the bottom rim with a heat-proof spatula.
5. Use granular flour. I can make white sauce with regular flour, but prefer to use granuar (gravy) flour because it is less apt to lump.
Most white sauce recipes call for regular or evaporated milk. My husband and I eat a low fat diet, so I use skim milk. I also use a butter-margarine blend to make the roux. Here is my recipe for white sauce.
1 tablespoon butter-margarine blend
1 1/2 tablespoons gravy flour
dash low-sodium salt
1 cup skim milk
Melt butter-margarine blend in a small saucepan. If you have a glass stove top, make sure the saucepan has a flat bottom and fits the burner. Whisk in gravy flour and salt. Cook roux for a few seconds. Add milk, whisking constantly, and cook over medium heat until the sauce thickens.
You can change the flavor of your sauce by adding:
* freshly grated nutmeg (nice with creamed spinach)
* onion powder
* garlic powder (I do this if I'm making Alfredo sauce.)
* light cream cheese (about 2 tablespoons)
* Parmesan cheese (2-3 tablespoons)
* Cheddar cheese (1/3 cup)
* fresh lemon juice (about 1 tablespoon)
* chicken or fish stock instead of milk (Veloute sauce)