Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Everything Tastes Better with Cheese Sauce

Tonight's Menu featured my family's comfort food favorite: oven-braised pork chops with vegetables (see prior post), so tender the meat was like butter; cauliflower with homemade cheddar cheese sauce; and for dessert, my husband's favorite, pineapple upside down cake.
Cheese sauce is a glorious thing to be able to make. It can turn any vegetable, like the steamed cauliflower, into a kid-friendly treat. Leftover sauce and veggies can be thinned with chicken broth and chunked with pasta and chicken for a warming soup. I learned this sauce as a dutiful daughter, standing at my mom's kitchen stove, whisking in a Revere saucepan. I recommend a nonstick pan these days, for ease of cleaning up, and be certain to shred your own cheese - the pre-shredded cheese has powdered cornstarch-like stuff on it that keeps it from melting properly in the sauce.

Cheddar Cheese Sauce

2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground pepper (use the stuff in the can, not the peppermill stuff for this)
2 cups milk
8 ounces or 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, or to taste

1. In nonstick saucepan over low heat, melt butter. Whisk in flour, salt and pepper. Cook for a minute, stirring continually, until smooth.

2. Meanwhile, heat milk in microwave for a minute or so, just to get the refrigerator chill off. With a whisk, gradually stir the milk into the butter/flour mixture. Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring continually, until bubbly and thickened. Remove from heat.

3. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, hot pepper sauce, if desired, and shredded cheese.

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