I never understood people who made their own pasta sauce
. I never thought I would ever find myself with either the time or the patience to make my own sauce from scratch in addition to sticking noodles
into a pot of boiling water. I used to pour store-bought sauce into the pasta straight from the container with pride. If more people made their own pasta sauce, it could have a devastating effect on the economy
. Sauce companies would go bankrupt. This is ludicrous, of course, but it is what I convinced myself in an attempt to make myself feel less lazy
Then last night, I found myself longing for macaroni and cheese but was without cheese sauce. The grocery store was closed. I had but one choice: make my own cheese sauce or starve.
It turned out astonishingly well indeed. It is astonishingly easy to make and astonishingly tasty considering how little effort is actually involved.
If you already know how to make sauce, this writeup will seem awfully mundane. But I promise you, you recent converts to the realm of homemade sauce, you will enjoy this.
Alarmingly easy cheese* sauce
These aren't anything special. You may even have them lying around your kitchen right now.
2 tablespoons butter/margarine
(replace with vegetable oil if you're feeling health conscious
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheese
Heat the butter/margarine/oil over in a small saucepan over low heat until it's completely melted.
Add the flour, salt and pepper.
Stir until the mixture is completely smooth. The ingredients you've just added may become lumpy. Just keep stirring.
Add the milk. Stir some more.
Add the cheese and heat it over medium heat. Keep stirring until the cheese is completely melted.
Add to pasta.
Stuff yourself silly. Remember to chew.
The sauce's taste will depend largely on what kind of cheese you use. I used Kraft's Tex-Mex blend (which includes about three different cheeses and jalapeno peppers. I imagine it would be just as good with cheddar or American cheese. The Debutante correctly notes that if you choose to use a decidely non-spicy cheese, such as cheddar, you may want to add some cayenne pepper and/or a dash of mustard.
If you like your sauce thinner, it's suggested that you halve all the listed ingredients except for the cheese. If made as described, the sauce will be reasonably (but not overly) thick.
If you're interested in sauce but not interested in cheese, you can skip the cheese step and end with the milk, making a white sauce instead. It won't be as thick, though.
This cheese sauce is, I'm told, also very good on vegetables, particularly potatoes.
Mad props to the actually good people at Good Housekeeping
, who provided the generic sauce recipe. The cheese was all mine.