Friday, July 12, 2013

Wonderful White Sauce

White sauce is deliciously simple and should be a staple in any cooks bag of tricks.  Using a little imagination and 20 minutes, one can create restaurant quality meals at home.  It is a great accompaniment to pasta and chicken of course, but also can be used as the base for cheesy dipping sauce or homemade mac and cheese.  Thickened and heavily peppered it is also what many folks call Country Gravy and will transform last night's biscuits from fossilizing hockey pucks into breakfast (wrap the biscuits in a damp paper towel and microwave 30 seconds to soften). 

Besides it's versatility in flavor and use, white sauce is very easy to create in any quantity desired. Really it is more of a formula than a recipe.

1 Tbs Butter -to- 1 Tbs White Flour -to 1 cup milk 
Easy peasy!  That said, I am going to present my first tutorial along with my recipe for Easy Peasy Pasta.   It is a great summer weight pasta that is quick, easy and incredibly tasty. Uncharacteristically, this recipe has no onion or garlic, but derives the majority of it's flavor from the bacon.  As a one dish dinner, this meal feeds 4. 

Easy Peasy Pasta
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs white flour
2 cups milk
4 strips turkey bacon
1 cup chopped fresh spinach
1 cup fresh or frozen sweet peas/ English peas
salt and pepper to taste
pasta prepared to package dirrections

Melt butter in a large, non-stick pan.
Add flour and work into butter using the bottom of the spoon to create a smooth paste.
Slowly pour in a small amount of milk and work the same way as the flour. Once a smooth paste is obtained the remaining milk can be stirred in with out worry. 
Stir sauce frequently while it thickens.  For this recipe the sauce will need to thicken to nearly a gravy consistency to make up for the water that the vegetables will release when they are added.  Salt and pepper to taste.
Cook bacon until firm and chop.
Add chopped spinach and peas to sauce and heat through.
Stir in diced bacon and remove from heat.  Serve immediately over hot pasta.
There it is, easy peasy just like I promised.  This dish is inspired by a fancy $12 dish I ate at a Miami Beach bistro a few years ago.  It lacks nothing in taste compared to the original, but feeds 4 people for right at $3.  For that kind of savings, I will gladly do the dishes myself.  

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