I am slowly mastering sauces. Especially cream based sauces. The secret is all about timing. If you are in a hurry, use a canned sauce. For real sauce, it’s a lot like making candy. The secret is the consistency which is made by the slow cooking of flour in hot flavorful oil. I used vegetable oil with some bacon grease to start this particular dish, but the beauty of the sauces is that you use what you have on hand. So for this dish I had just fried some bacon wrapped chicken the oil (hence the bacon grease) and it now carried with it those flavors in the oil. I simply toss in flour to cover the base of the pan, roughly 3 table spoons of oil/grease to equal parts flour. Simmer the flour SLOWLY on a low heat. Don’t want it to cook fast and burn, just simmer until it becomes a thick glue like substance. Then TURN DOWN THE HEAT and poor in your cream. I used milk, but half-n-half would have been awesome. I usually add a cup or more of milk. I eye ball all this because it all depends on how much grease and flour you started with and how much of the sauce you are wanting to make. This is the same process I would also follow for gravy. Wisk in the milk and quickly bring the temperature back up to a medium/high. Notice I said “Medium/High”, NOT “High”. On a scale of 1-10, and 10 being on High, I set the range at a 6.
Then SLOWLY bring the sauce up to a simmering boil, stirring occasionally. From hear on out, it’s an art form. If the sauce thickens to quickly, add more milk/cream. If it doesn’t seem to thicken, just wait. If you cooked the flour right, then it will thicken, but it might take some time. Sometimes I add water mixed with either chicken broth or a seasoning. For this dish I added water with spinach and some salt. Kept simmering until it thickened and then removed from the heat. Still stirring it, I add the cheese element.
ALWAYS add cheese OFF the burner. Even if you turn the burner off, it’s still hot enough to cause the cheese to clump and separate. The objective is to fold the cheese into a hot sauce base and let it melt in. Parmesan and Romona make great sauces, but for this spinach sauce I used shredded colby jack.
Some cheeses are stringy, and the cure for stringy cheese, or at least what has worked for me so far, is stirring fast and adding water slowly until the sauce returns to a nice thin but rich consistency.
Cover the sauce until ready to serve so that it doesn’t skin on top. That’s it. Experiment with it and make the perfect sauce to compliment any meal.