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Ì love 'concept' cooking, and Ì rarely follow a recipe because of that; Ì cook with
whatever is in the house, fridge, or garden. With white sauce, the concept is that fIour
or cornstarch wiII thicken things. The thicker you want it, the more you use. The
only tricks are in knowing how to avoid lumps, and knowing which amount of thickener
to use. Ì just remember that 2 Tbsp. gives a good medium sauce consistency, so go
down or up from that depending on what you want. Ì use this formula for everything
from pan sauces, to gravies, to "Cream of Mushroom Soup¨ replacements, to puddings
and fruit sauces or syrups.
WHITE SAUCE USES:
Thin Sauce- Use as cream soups and other sauces, add whatever ingredients you
edium SauceUse for creamed or scalloped dishes and gravies.
Thick SauceUse in place of a can of 'cream of.' condensed soups, or as a base for
Here are the basic formulas:
Thin White Sauce
1 Tbsp. butter or fat
1 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. salt (omit if using bacon drippings)
1 cup milk, cream, or stock
edium White Sauce
2 Tbsp. butter or fat
2 tbs flour
¼ ts salt
1 cup milk, cream, or stock
Thick White Sauce
3 tbs butter or fat
3 tbs flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup milk, cream, or stock
Use one of the methods below. Makes 1 cup sauce.
FOR A PERFECT WHITE SAUCE - smooth, gIossy, and satiny
Melt butter; stir in flour and salt.
Add milk gradually; whisk until smooth.
Ìf it's lumpy, whisk until smooth. Ìf that doesn't solve the problem, strain it through a fine
sieve, or, better yet, run it through your blender or food processor.
ethod 1: Melt butter or other fat, stir in flour and salt. Cook and stir until mixture
bubbles; it should resemble a honeycomb structure. Remove from heat; add liquid, and
stir until smooth. Cook in double boiler or over low heat until mixture thickens, about two
minutes, stirring constantly or not at all.
ethod 2: This one uses no fat. Put milk, salt, and flour in a jar with a tight-fitting lid.
Shake hard until mixed well. Heat and stir in a pan or microwave until it boils and
ethod 3: Melt fat and remove from heat. Add flour and salt. Stir until smooth. Add
liquid gradually, stirring constantly over low heat until mixture thickens.
ethod 4: Stir enough liquid into flour and salt to form a thin smooth paste. Scald
remainder of liquid in double boiler. Add flour paste to hot liquid, stirring constantly until
mixture thickens. Cover and cook 20 minutes longer. Stir in fat just before serving. To
keep hot and prevent crust from forming over sauce, place over hot water and cover
For the savory versions, some variations are:
-Add any herbs or spices that sound good
-Add in ¼ c.-½ c. meat (tuna, chicken, beef, sausage, etc.)
-Mix in a skillet with fond to make gravy
-Add any chopped veggies you want (olives, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, capers)
-Use cornstarch instead of flour; you only need half as much (i.e..1 Tbsp. cornstarch
instead of the 2 Tbsp. flour) Arrowroot, potato starch, or other flours will also work.
See below for more specific variations, if you want to know quantities. Most of them
came from some magazine several years ago. Ìf you know which one it was, please let
me know so Ì can give them credit.
Asparagus- ½ c. cooked asparagus to 1 cup white sauce. Serve with omelets or
Cheese- For an extra-smooth sauce, use evaporated milk in the basic white sauce
recipe. Add 1/2-1 c. chopped or grated cheese and one or more of the following: dash
of Worchestershire, ¼ -½ tsp. mustard, paprika, cayenne, onion/garlic powder. Use the
lesser amount of cheese with a stronger one like Parmesan or Asiago, more with milder
cheeses like mozzarella, American, Colby, or mild/medium Cheddar. Ìf the sauce
becomes too thick, add a little more milk.
Add a can of green chilis, a chopped jalapeno pepper and/or chopped olives to make
Nacho Cheese sauce. Use cheese sauce with pasta (Mac and Cheese!), on broccoli
or cauliflower, on baked potatoes (stir in some bacon bits?), or anything that sounds
Cheese-oIive- add the cheese (see above) and ½ cup stuffed olives. Serve with
macaroni, rice, or vegetables.
Cheese-Tomato- make sauce using 1/ 2 cup tomato juice and ½ cup milk. Or use all
milk and add 1 Tbsp. tomato powder. Add ¼ c. cheese. Serve over cauliflower.
Crabmeat- add ½-1 c. flaked crab to sauce. Add a bit of chicken stock, or walnut oil if
wanted (originally called for 1 Tbsp. sherry)
Cream of ceIery, cream of mushroom, or cream of onion- sauté ¼ c. finely chopped
onion, mushrooms, or celery, in 1 Tbsp. butter. Add to sauce. Add a pinch each of onion
powder and thyme if you like.
Creamed Beef ÷ add a 2-oz package of corned beef or regular beef deli meat, chopped
or shredded. Serve over toast or rice.
CreoIe Sauce: Use tomato juice or strained tomatoes for the
liquid, or use water and 2-4 Tbsp. tomato powder. Saute minced onion, chopped green
pepper, and minced celery in the butter before flour is added.
Curry Sauce: Add 1/4 to 1 teaspoon curry powder with dry ingredients before cooking
with the fat.
Serve with chicken, lamb, rice, or fish.
DiII Sauce: Add 3 tablespoons minced fresh dill to 1 cup seasoned (salt/pepper)
medium white sauce. Good with hamburgers, eggs, salmon, seafood, in scalloped or
mashed potatoes, or over toast.
Egg Sauce: Add 2 chopped hard-cooked eggs to white sauce, additional
salt, and a dash of paprika. Ì grew up eating this on toast for breakfast, or serve with
GoIdenrod Sauce: Add 2 chopped hard-cooked egg whites to 1 cup seasoned medium
white sauce. Pour over fish and sprinkle with chopped hard-cooked egg yolks. For a
prettier look, press cooked yolks through a sieve.
Green Pea Sauce: Add 1/2 cup hot cooked or canned peas and
1 tablespoon chopped pimento. Serve with omelets or salmon or tuna loaf.
Horseradish Sauce: Add 2 to 4 tablespoons prepared horseradish, and 1/4 to 1/2
teaspoon prepared mustard to white sauce. Serve with boiled beef or corned beef.
Lobster or Shrimp Sauce: Add 1/2 to 1 cup canned or cooked
lobster meat or shrimp, cut into small pieces to seasoned medium
white sauce. For added flavor, add a pinch of chicken bouillon, or use stock in place of
half the milk.
Serve with omelets, baked, broiled, or poached fish.
iIanese Sauce: Use 1/2 cup veal stock and ½ cup milk in
preparing medium white sauce. Add 2 tablespoons grated parmesan
cheese to the thickened sauce. Serve with veal.
ock HoIIandaise Sauce: To 1/2 cup well seasoned white sauce,
add equal amount of mayonnaise and enough lemon juice to brighten the flavor.
Serve on asparagus and other green vegetables.
ushroom Sauce: Add 1/2 to 1 cup sliced cooked or canned mushrooms and a pinch
of thyme to white sauce. Serve with chicken or vegetables.
ustard Sauce: Add 1 tablespoon prepared mustard to white sauce. Serve with fish ,
beef, or tongue.
Oyster Sauce: Gently simmer oysters in a little bit of liquid until they plump and edges
begin to curl, about 5 minutes. Add to hot medium white sauce. Serve with omelets,
fish patties, and timbales.
Paprika Sauce: Add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon paprika with dry ingredients.
Season with 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice.
Sage Butter Sauce - add in 1 tsp. onion powder, ½ tsp. chicken bouillon, 1 tsp. lemon
juice, ¼ c. butter, and 1-2 tsp. minced fresh sage (or ½ tsp. dried). Add salt, pepper,
and cayenne pepper to taste. Serve over chicken or turkey, roasted or breaded. Try
serving this over Parmesan Chicken with a side of garlic and rosemary roasted potato
Pudding (bIanc mange)- banana, butterscotch, chocoIate, coconut, vaniIIa,
butterscotch, peanut butter, banana, strawberries-and-cream
Lemon meringue pie
Gravy- use the same quantities as with white sauce, but melt the butter (or pan
drippings) in a pan coated with fond (the browned bits stuck to the pan, from cooking
meat). Stir in the flour and cook, then slowly whisk in milk, water, or broth. Salt and
pepper to taste. Stir in chopped bits of meat (or sausage) if you like.
ChocoIate Gravy- Yes, this is a dessert! Melt in 2 squares of unsweetened
chocolate, or add another 2 Tbsp. butter along with ¼ cup cocoa. Stir in ¾ cup sugar-
easiest if mixing this along with flour/cornstarch/cocoa. Serve over biscuits or
Fruit sauce- use any flavor juice, sweeten to taste. Make it as thick or thin as you
Fruit syrup- use quantities for Thin White Sauce, use any flavor fruit juice instead of
milk. Add a tablespoon of lemon if the taste needs brightened, sugar to taste (1/4-1/2
cup), and any spice you like. Some ideas: Apple-Cinnamon, Spiced Pear, Orange-
Ginger, Grape (with a touch of cinnamon or cloves). We almost always have this kind
of syrup on pancakes at my house. Ìf it's too thick, add more juice.
'apIe' Syrup- low sugar- use water, ¼- ½ c. brown sugar, and enough
flour/cornstarch for Thin White Sauce. When thickened, add a capful or two of maple
flavoring, and the butter if you're using it.
Pudding plan on making a double batch; 2 cups of pudding is a nice amount to have.
VaniIIa Pudding 1 (bIanc mange, no egg): (SUMMARY- make thick white
sauce, but with sugar and vanilla, butter is optional.) Use the amount of flour for Thick
White Sauce (Ì prefer to use cornstarch in this- remember to use half as much), 3-4
Tbsp. sugar. You'll have much better pudding if you use whole milk (or use partly
cream or evaporated milk). You don't need to cook the butter and flour/cornstarch in a
pan first, either; just mix the flour/cornstarch with the sugar and salt (opt.), slowly add
the milk, then boil for 1-2 minutes. Add the butter (which is optional) last, along with ½
tsp. vanilla. Chill.
VaniIIa Pudding 2 (with egg): (SUMMARY- make medium white sauce, but with
sugar, egg, and vanilla, butter is optional.) Use the amount of flour (or cornstarch) for
Medium White Sauce, and beat one egg (or two to three egg yolks, for richer pudding);
set egg aside. Mix sugar, salt, and flour/cornstarch, stir in milk, and bring to a boil.
Pour a thin stream of this hot milk into the beaten egg, stirring constantly, until about
half the milk is mixed with it. This keeps the egg from curdling (scrambling). Pour the
egg mixture back into boiling mixture, boil for 1-2 minutes. Add 1 tsp. vanilla.
Banana Pudding- stir in 2 sliced bananas to a 2-cup batch. You can either do
this while the pudding is warm, which will slightly cook the bananas and distribute the
flavor better, or when the pudding is cold.
Butterscotch Pudding ÷ use brown sugar instead of white, remember to use the
salt, and use browned butter to make it extra flavorful (optional).
ChocoIate Pudding- stir melted or grated chocolate in after the pudding cooks,
or mix in some cocoa with the sugar before cooking. How much you add gives you
either milk chocolate or dark chocolate pudding. Ìf using unsweetened chocolate, add
1-3 squares for a two-cup batch. Use the salt, and add an extra couple Tbsp sugar. Ìf
using cocoa, use ¼- ½ c. for a two-cup batch.
Coconut Pudding- use either regular milk or coconut milk, stir in ¼ cup toasted
coconut. Ì prefer to use macaroon coconut (fine-flake) to avoid eating stringy bits! Ìf
you can't find it, run your toasted coconut through a blender or food processor until
small. Ìf you're not using coconut milk, add ½ tsp. coconut extra in a 2-cup batch.
Cream Pie- Make any flavor pudding, and pour it in a pie crust. Ìf it's not thick
enough (it will set up as it cools), use more cornstarch/flour next time. You'll need a
two-cup batch for an 8-inch pie, 2 ½ times the batch for a 9-inch pie. See Crash Course
in Pies for a written recipe and variations.
FIuffy Pudding- to any flavor, fold in 1 cup of whipped cream to a two-cup batch.
Lemon FiIIing for Lemon eringue Pie- use extra cornstarch/flour (DOUBLE
what you'd use for Thick White Sauce), use egg yolks (save whites for meringue), and
for a two-cup batch, use ½ cup lemon juice and the rest (1 ½ cups) water (not milk),
increase sugar to 1 1/3 cups. Use butter and half the salt, and add a couple teaspoons
of lemon zest if you have it. You can do the same thing with any fruit juice for a different
flavor filling; tart cherry juice would be delicious. Anything that is not tart would require
less sugar, though. Sweeten to taste.
Peanut Butter Pudding- stir in ½ cup creamy peanut butter.
Strawberries-and-Cream Pudding ÷ use strawberry juice or crushed
strawberries and a couple tablespoons of orange juice (optional) in place of some of
the milk; use evaporated milk, cream, or half-and-half for the remaining liquid. This is
especially good with whipped cream folded in. Or just make vanilla pudding, stir in
some strawberries or some strawberry jam, and fold in the whipped cream.
SouffIe- Make Thick White Sauce, add ¼ tsp. mustard and a dash of cayenne. Stir
in 1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar, 3 well-beaten egg yolks. Ìn a bowl, combine 3 egg
whites and ¼ tsp. cream of tartar (optional but helps the whites whip well), whip until
stiff peaks, then fold into the cheese mixture. Bake at 350 degrees in an ungreased 1 ½
qt. baking dish for 50-60 minutes or until puffed and golden. Eat right away, before it
deflates. You can use tomato juice in place of the milk, or add 1 cup corn, or chopped
ham, or mushrooms, whatever savory food sounds good.