White Bean Stew
Food Revolution Day

White Sauce

We made manicotti at the kitchen last week.  I was tired of making pots and pots of tomato sauce over the winter (spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna) so I opted for a simple white sauce.  Once I made the white sauce, I added some fresh spinach (quickly sauteed in olive oil and garlic) and voila!  Manicotti Florentine.

White sauce (or bechamel sauce) is a great recipe to have in your repertoire.  If only so you can use it to make homemade macaroni and cheese!

It's so simple.  This is a terrific how-to from epicurious.com:

White Sauce

yield: Makes about 1 cup

This used to be one of the first lessons in home economics classes; invariably white and pasty, it coated many a bland dish. When well made, however, it has a proper place in homey, creamed dishes, often making leftovers stretch or giving cooked foods new life. And it is important as a base for soufflés. The French term for this medium-thick white sauce is béchamel. The foolproof way to attain a perfectly smooth sauce is to have the milk hot when added to the butter and flour. It uses an extra pot, but as you become more proficient, this cautionary measure may not be necessary.
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/4 cups milk, heated
Freshly ground pepper

Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the paste cooks and bubbles a bit, but don't let it brown — about 2 minutes. Add the hot milk, continuing to stir as the sauce thickens. Bring it to a boil. Add salt and pepper to taste, lower the heat, and cook, stirring for 2 to 3 minutes more. Remove from the heat. To cool this sauce for later use, cover it with wax paper or pour a film of milk over it to prevent a skin from forming.

And a very important variation (note:  I would add the cheese and take the pot off of the heat to stir):
Cheese Sauce
Stir in 1/2 cup grated Cheddar cheese during the last 2 minutes of cooking, along with a pinch of cayenne pepper.


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