White roux-based sauce

1 Melt the fat slowly in a small saucepan. Never let it sizzle or it will become brown and change the color and taste of the sauce.

Melt the fat slowly

2 Remove pan from heat, stir in plain flour. Return to low heat, stir gently for 1-2 minutes until smooth. Do not let it color.

stir in plain <a class=flour" title="stir in plain flour">

3 Put liquid in a separate pan. Heat through until it is as hot as your finger can comfortably bear. On no account let it boil.

Put liquid in a separate pan

4 Remove the roux pan from the heat. Add a little liquid, stirring vigorously. Add the remaining liquid gradually, still stirring.

Add a little liquid, stirring vigorously

5 When the mixture is smoothly blended, return the pan to the heat and bring the sauce to the boil, stirring continuously. Season.

bring the sauce to the boil

6 Turn the heat to low, cover the pan and simmer for 5 minutes to complete the cooking of the starch.

simmer for 5 minutes

Gel1eral principles

White and brown roux-based sauces are made in basically the same way. butter, margarine or oil is melted in a saucepan and flour or corn-flour, in equal quantities, is added to it and cooked until the butter has incorporated all the flour. The resulting paste is known as a roux.

A liquid, usually stock or milk or a mixture of the two, is added to the roux, and they are cooked together to form a sauce.

The proportion of fat and flour to the liquid depends on the consistency of the sauce required. In other words, whether it is to be used to coat food, to be poured from a sauce-boat or to bind food together.

Techniques explained

Every potential sauce cook has a nagging fear of her sauce going lumpy and looking nothing like the velvety smooth version which is mocking her from the open pages of her cookery book! But it really is unnecessary to panic. By keeping some simple points in mind you should be able to sail through like a true professional.

Always weigh the ingredients before you start cooking. Sift the flour so that it is really fine, and never try to skimp on the proportion of butter to flour-you will only get a dull and lumpy sauce. Stick strictly to the quantities and ingredients given in the consistency and derivative charts shown on the following pages.

Melt the fat so gently over a low heat that it simply runs over the bottom of the pan. Don't allow it to sizzle or it will quickly turn brown and ruin the delicate color and flavour of the sauce. Draw the pan away from the heat when you add the flour and, later, the liquid, so that they can be worked in smoothly. After the flour has been added the pan is returned to the heat to allow the starch grains to burst and absorb the fat, giving a glossy finish to the finished sauce. Although professionals usually blend cold liquid into the hot roux, the beginner will find it easier to blend in a warm liquid. Heat the liquid until it is as hot as your finger can comfortably bear, take the roux off the heat, and pour in the liquid, a little at a time, stirring it constantly. This is done because it is easier to blend two foods together if they are approximately the same temperature.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil stirring. Then reduce heat to very low, cover the pan and leave to simmer. Simmering enables the starch grains to expand and absorb the liquid thus thickening the sauce. Never be tempted to cut the cooking time (or the resulting sauce will have an unpleasantly overpowering floury taste), or to leave the sauce to boil-this would reduce the cooking time. It is important that the sauce just simmers, that is, when you can see a gentle agitation on the surface. Simmering temperature is from about 90 to 100 C[185 to 200 F].

It is worth remembering, too, that a little sauce goes a long way. Generally 250 ml of liquid will make a pouring sauce in a jug or cover portions for four people.
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