the basis of almost every sauce.
This technique is so simple and basic, I kinda think that I don’t even need to mention it. And yet, so often when I do mention it, I get that “deer in the headlights” look. So what the hell, I’ll talk about it once, and then after that everyone will know what’s up.
I remember Bridgette and I and a few friends in college had a monthly cooking night. Everyone took turns cooking a real meal, which was great for all of us, because we all enjoyed non-fast food for a change. We had a friend who was a pretty decent cook who served us a lovely meal, and then used Campbell’s cheddar cheese soup as the cheese sauce to put over it all. That was my first clue that not everyone knows how to make a roux. (FYI – the “cheese sauce” sucked.)
I use this all the time. So much of what I cook has a sauce with it, so I just do it and don’t even think about it. Cheese sauce, gravy, Asian sauces, even my taco meat is slightly saucy because of this technique. Change the liquid and you have a different sauce. Add various cheeses after the liquid is added and make your favorite cheese sauce.
There are lots of ways to thicken a sauce – cornstarch (or any starch), cook it a long time, cheat and use a packaged mix, or my favorite – make a roux.
A roux is just a fat of some type, and flour. Add liquid to turn it into a sauce. Proportions depend on how thick you want the final sauce.
So, for a thin sauce (think gravy) you would use a tablespoon of butter and a tablespoon of flour, and then add 1 cup of liquid. See? Really easy to remember. For a medium thick sauce you would add 2 tablespoons of flour, and a thick sauce would be 3 tablespoons. I hardly ever do that, because it really is thick.
Here’s the technique:
Grab your favorite saucier or saucepan, and melt the butter over medium heat. Feel free to let it cook and brown a little for extra flavor, but you don’t have to!
Turn the heat to medium low and add the flour. Mix it together with a whisk to keep it lump free. Cook it for a few minutes to cook out any raw flour taste. Now is a good time to add in any seasonings you might want.
Slide it off the heat, and add about 1/4 of your liquid. Whisk it all until there are no lumps. Add some more liquid, and repeat. Add the rest, and slide it back over the heat.
Bring it just to a boil, stirring frequently to keep it from burning. Ta da, it’s done!
Now, you have no more excuses to not make a real sauce with your meal!