White Sauce Makes Friendship Better

Do you remember how you made all your friends? Most of them drift into your life and gradually become friends … but Nicola and I bonded over white sauce.

Now, obviously there’s a proper way to make white sauce, starting with a roux, getting a pan and a whisk dirty, and requiring precision timing and one’s full attention.

However, nothing I cook can have precision timing or my full attention nowadays because of the small children: for example, the toddler has recently learned how to climb on to the window ledge, but not how to climb down. I have neither the patience nor the resources to spoil batch after batch of white sauce.

About two or three years ago I learned the Mumsnet Microwave Method, and it changed everything. Suddenly I could make white sauce again, so fish pie (of which more in a later post), macaroni cheese and lasagne were all back on the menu.

One afternoon, in a queue to pick up from pre-school, idly discussing what we were making for the children’s tea, I referred to macaroni cheese as a no-stress quick and easy dish. Nicola, whom I knew vaguely but not well, was unconvinced. So I taught her the Mumsnet Microwave Method, and we’ve been friends ever since.

Method?

You will need a 2pt/1L microwave-safe jug, a microwave, a fork, 10floz/300ml milk, 1oz/25g cornflour and an optional 1oz/25g butter.

Measure the milk into the jug, then add the cornflour and butter. Mix vaguely with the fork.

Microwave on full power for one minute, then mix with the fork.

Microwave on full power for one minute, then mix with the fork.

Microwave on full power for one minute, then mix with the fork.

At this point you will start to think nothing will ever happen. Have faith.

Microwave for a fourth minute on full power. Behold! Smooth, lump-free white sauce. Add parsley, cheese, brandy, etc as required.

The method also works for custard (10floz/300ml milk, 1tbsp custard powder, 1tbsp sugar).

Scaling up to a pint yields variable results. You need a big jug to avoid catastrophic overflow, and you need to start with a two-minute blast. But when you’re making a cauliflower cheese, half a pint won’t cut it.

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