Cheese sauce is a favourite sauce for many. Cheese sauce is quick and easy to make, easy to adjust for flavour and consistency, and generally totally flop-proof.
Start off by collecting a few cheese sauce ingredients.
For your cheese sauce, you will need:
Margarine or butter (butter is always better)
Pinch of salt
Dash of pepper
Grated Cheddar cheese
These cheese sauce ingredients are basic cheese sauce ingredients, and can be expanded, to create a cheese sauce that is totally unique, and your own. We generally add worcester sauce (worcestershire sauce), mustard, soya sauce, garlic, chili, herbs, and another stronger cheese. Please note, you don’t have to add all these extra ingredients, just one or two is fine.
Okay. Let’s get started. For 2 very generous servings, use:
1 generous tablespoon margarine,
1 generous table spoon flour,
1 (250ml) cup milk,
and 1 ½ cups finely grated cheese.
Decide on your add-ons. Do use a bit of another stronger cheese if you are fortunate enough to find nice strong ripe cheddar cheese. If all you can find is the typical bland cheddar cheese, or if you’re using a Gouda, get a piece of Roquefort or Camembert (Look out for the Fairview cheeses – they’re great). Crumble 1 or 2 generous tablespoons of the stronger cheese, and add it to your already grated cheese. Just remember, this is a tasting game – I prefer a stronger flavour to most people, so you do need to taste test, and adjust as you progress.
Think with your taste buds. Taste a piece of your Cheddar or Gouda, and experience the taste. Would you like it to be a bit stronger? Add 1 tablespoon stronger cheese. Would you like it to be a lot stronger? Add 2 or more tablespoons of the stronger cheese. Consider how the cheese sauce must complement or compete with the finger foods you will be serving, making or preparing – does it need to be strong, or should it be subtle?
When you have decided on the strength of flavour you want, and you have decided on what you will be adding, you can switch your stove on. For cheese sauce I like to use a broad bottomed sauce pan, over a low heat. You don’t need high temperatures for a cheese sauce.
Melt the margarine, and add the flour. Using a spatula, mix the margarine and flour until you have a stiff smooth paste. Add the milk, a little at a time, mixing it well into the margarine and flour paste. You can toss it all in at the same time, but then you need to spend loads more time making sure there are no lumps. Little at a time is actually quicker and easier.
With all the milk added, you should now have a fairly runny white sauce – congratulations. This white sauce is an ideal topping for most vegetables!
We need to take this a step or two further.
Add your Cheddar or Gouda, a little at a time, and mix it into the milk, margarine and flour paste. For a runny sauce, use less cheese. For a stiff sauce, add more. With all the cheese added, taste test next.
Do you want it stronger? If so, add your Roquefort or Camembert. The Roquefort or Camembert you don’t use now you can have with a cracker or two later.
Add a little at a time, checking the flavour as you go. When the cheese flavour is as you want it, add your other flavourings – a touch of mustard, a dash of worcester sauce, and, if needed, salt.
If you do need to heat your cheese sauce at a later stage, do it slowly and gently, on the stove. Microwaving the cheese sauce will kill it.
There you have it, a great and easy cheese sauce, perfect for dipping finger foods at a party, or even just to pour over toast!
© Copyright Tony Flanigan 2012 and 2013