This comforting sauce is a staple that all home cooks should have up their sleeve – use it in vegetable dishes, pasta recipes or as a dip
- Serves: 6 persons
- 600ml whole milk
- ½small onion
- 1bay leaf
- 50g unsalted butter
- 40g plain flour
- 3tsp english mustard powder
- a grating nutmeg
- 200g mature cheddar (or vegetarian alternative)
Step 1Warm the milk in a pan over a low heat. Press the cloves into the onion and add to the milk, along with the bay leaf. Bring to a gentle simmer, then remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 30 minutes.
Step 2In a separate, heavy-based pan, melt the butter over a medium heat until foaming. Sprinkle over the flour and continually stir with a wooden spoon or spatula until a thick paste forms. Strain the infused milk into a jug and add to this roux, a splash at a time, while continually stirring. Only add a little milk at first as you see the flour expand and loosen – if you add the milk too quickly, it can make the sauce lumpy. Once the mixture is a little looser, add a little more milk each time until it’s all absorbed.
Step 3Cook the sauce for 4-5 minutes until it’s lightly thickened and has the consistency of double cream, then stir in the mustard powder and nutmeg to taste, along with the cheddar. Stir until the cheese melts and thickens the sauce to your liking. Add a splash more cold milk to loosen the sauce, if you need to. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the sauce over steamed cauliflower, leeks or broccoli before baking, or use as the recipe requires.
Step 4The sauce will thicken a lot as it cools, but it can be covered and kept chilled for two days. Reheat, stirring well, adding a splash more milk, to loosen.