The basis for this sauce is a bechamel also known as a classic white sauce or roux. You can vary the quantities and variety of cheese depending on required thickness of the sauce and the strength of flavour. For macaroni or cauliflower cheese I like it quite thick and use a strong cheddar whereas for a lasagne I use a milder cheese and slightly less of it to make the sauce thinner.
Ingredients for cheese sauce
- 15fl oz (425ml) milk
- 1 bay leaf
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- ¼ onion
- 2 oz/ 50g butter
- ¾oz/20g plain flour
- 50g to 100g grated hard cheese
- salt and pepper
Method of preparation
- Gently warm the milk, bay leaf, peppercorns and onion over a low heat simmer for at least 5 minutes. Strain the milk and discard the bay leaf, peppercorns and onion. Cover the milk and use when ready to make the sauce.
- Melt the butter gently over a very low heat, be sure not to over heat it. Once melted add the flour and vigorously mix together using a wooden spoon until it becomes a smooth paste. Add a little of the milk stirring constantly until the milk you have poured is fully incorporated. Continue to add a little of the milk at a time, stirring and mixing into a smooth paste. This requires a little patience but is worth it, if you try to rush by turning up the heat you will have a lumpy sauce. After you have incorporated about half the milk you can add the remainder in one go continuing to stir until the mixture maintains a constant creamy texture and glossy appearance.
- Next, stir in the cheese allowing it to melt thoroughly. If the sauce is a little thick stir in a little milk until it reaches the required consistency.
- Season with salt and pepper and stir well.
- The sauce can be covered and warmed through when ready to use.