This cream sauce is richer than the typical white sauce or Bechamel, and it's just as versatile. Add a few tablespoons of Chardonnay or dry white wine, or add some Parmesan cheese to give this easy basic sauce a little zing. I usually add about 1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan cheese to this sauce. Herbs and other types of cheese may be added as well. See the tips and variations for more ideas.
It is a fabulous sauce to serve over chicken, shrimp, or fish fillets, and it takes just minutes to fix. Or add a few cups of shredded cheese and use it for a rich and creamy macaroni and cheese. It's an excellent sauce to use as a binder in casseroles, too.
The white pepper is just to keep the sauce white. If you prefer the flavor of black pepper, feel free to use freshly ground black pepper.
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- Dash kosher salt (or to taste)
- Dash white pepper (or freshly ground black pepper)
- Optional: pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Optional: 4 tablespoons dry white wine
- Heat the milk in a saucepan over medium heat until bubbles begin to appear around the edge. Keep warm.
- Melt the butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat.
- Add the flour and stir until mixture is well blended. Continue cooking, stirring, for 2 minutes.
- Gradually stir in the hot milk. Cook over medium heat, constantly stirring, until sauce begins to boil and thickens. Simmer, frequently stirring, over very low heat for 5 minutes. Stir in cream and wine, if using. Season with salt and pepper to taste and add a little nutmeg and herbs if desired.
- The recipe makes about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups of medium thickness cream sauce.
Tips and Variations
- Saute 1 clove of pressed or minced garlic in the butter for a minute before adding the flour and then proceed with the recipe.
- Saute 1 tablespoon of minced shallots in the butter until translucent. Add the flour and continue with the recipe.
- Add 1 teaspoon of fresh chopped herbs or about 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs.
- For onion flavor without the texture, add a slice of onion to the milk when heating. Remove the onion slice before you add the hot milk to the roux.
- Mornay Sauce - Add 1/4 cup each of Parmesan cheese and shredded Gruyere along with the salt and pepper, to taste. Whisk in 1 tablespoon of unsalted butter .
- Smoked Gouda Sauce - Add 1 cup of shredded smoked Gouda cheese (4 ounces) and 1/2 teaspoon of paprika to the sauce along with the salt and pepper, to taste. Simmer until the cheese has melted. Use it in macaroni and cheese, over poached eggs, or with steamed vegetables.