According to food historians sauce was used in 200 A.D. by the Romans to disguise the taste of food and possibly to conceal lack of freshness. In contrast with what has been done in the last couple of thousand years, modern Italian cuisine makes scant use of sauces. A sauce is now intended as a subtle background to a combination of the freshest possible ingredients. A few tablespoon of good old Béchamel or white sauce works wonders if used to soften and combine flavors in baked dishes. I make it in the microwave, so it’s ready in a breeze.
- 1 tabsp butter
- 1 tabsp corn starch (maizena)
- 250 ml (1 cup) milk
- 1 pinch nutmeg
- salt and pepper to taste
Using a tall glass container, heat the milk until hot to the touch, about 2 min. In a different tall container melt butter 30-60 sec. To make a roux, add flour to the butter and mix thoroughly using electric whisks until smooth. While whisking, add the hot milk, first one tablespoon at the time until smooth and then all the rest. Transfer the milk and roux mixture in the microwave and heat for one minute. Quickly stir, then microwave for one more minute or until the mixture is almost at boiling point. Whisk again. At this point the sauce should be thick and smooth. Season and add a pinch of grated nutmeg if desired. If too thick, add some more hot milk and whisk carefully to incorporate.