A white cheese sauce consisting of bechamel sauce and cheese. Perfect for pasta, chicken, seafood, veggies, and more. Makes 1 cup.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, warm the milk until steam begins to rise from the milk and the edges just begin to simmer. Don't let the milk boil.
Meanwhile, in another medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Once the butter has melted, add the flour and stir together to create a paste-like mixture (a roux). Continue stirring for approximately 1 minute, until the roux transforms from its original paste-like appearance to a bubbly, liquid-like appearance. Move the roux off the heat.
Slowly stream the hot milk into the prepared roux, whisking the mixture vigorously as you do. Transfer the entire mixture back to the stove over medium heat, and whisk in the cheese. Whisk until its smooth and as thick as you'd like it to be. The longer you cook the mixture (and effectively reduce it), the thicker it will be.
Move the sauce off the heat and stir in the salt and pepper. Taste test for salt and add more if desired. Pour the sauce over your prepared dish. If you won't be immediately using it, run a rubber spatula against the side of the pan, then pour a thin layer of milk over the top to prevent a layer of skin forming on the top. Reheat over low heat when you're ready to use.
The amount of sauce created (1 cup) will be enough for about 8 oz. of pasta (like in a macaroni dish) or as a topping for entrée dishes that will serve 4 people (such as chicken and fish).
You can sub alternative cheeses, or use a combination of cheeses instead of the parmesan. You can also increase the amount of cheese to taste, however, be mindful that the sauce will become thicker with more cheese added.
To make a thinner sauce, use an equal ratio of butter and flour (1 tbsp flour + 1 tbsp butter).
If you use this recipe and your sauce appears too thick for your liking, simply stream in a tablespoon of milk at a time, whisking after each addition. Add until you get your desired consistency.
If your prepared roux is hot and the milk is hot, you shouldn't get any clumps. If you use room temperature, finely grated cheese, you also shouldn't get any clumps. But if you run into this problem, you can pour the sauce in a sieve to strain out the clumps.
If your sauce is too thin, you can combine another tablespoon of butter with another tablespoon of flour in separate pan until bubbly and hot, then pour that into your sauce and whisk to combine.