How to Create Smooth Creamy Sauces
Creating smooth creamy sauces isn’t hard when you understand how to do it. Nothing is better on noodles, veggies, or meats than delicious creamy gravies and sauces. Home cooks and chefs alike shudder in fear of the lumpy and separated sauce disasters that can occur, ruining an otherwise perfect recipe. But, no fear, it’s just a matter of learning the right way to prepare a wonderful smooth creamy sauce.
Most sauces start out with the same type of ingredients. It’s just a few easy steps. You start with a fat, a thickening agent, the main liquid, herbs and spices. Typically with creamy sauces that means butter, flour, milk or cream and possibly salt, nutmeg or other aromatics depending upon the dish. Some cream sauces are simply butter and cream cooked until it coats a back of a spoon over low heat, tossed with the aromatics at the end and poured over noodles. But the easiest way is described below.
It is important to take your time when making any cream sauces or gravies. First get out all your ingredients and divide the measurements into easy to access cups so that you know you have all the ingredients at your finger tips. Then put the fat into a heavy bottomed sauce pan on low heat. It’s important to actually heat up the pan a little first, then add the fat. If it’s butter, carefully stir with a wooden spoon as it melts. If you desire a bitter finish as some recipes require, brown the butter slightly (this is common with gravy but not cream sauce).
The next step is always to add the thickening agent or flour to the butter to form what is called a roux. You can also brown at this point if you are making gravy, but if you’re making cream sauce, just let it mix up and become a paste. Next, still keeping the heat to low, add in your liquid slowly mixing quickly with the spoon or whisk until all the roux is incorporated into the liquid. At this point you want to add in your herbs and spices as well. Simply keep stirring until the sauce barely comes to a boil, then it is at this point you will add in cheese for a cheese sauce, or you’re actually done if it is a simple white sauce.
As you see the trick is patience, and taking your time during the first two processes. Once the sauce is creamy it’s hard to mess it up. Don’t over boil or it will separate, and don’t cook it too far in advance of serving so that it will be fresh and creamy upon eating. Always make the cream sauce last before serving guests. It only takes a few minutes. If the sauce does break, or the oil breaks, add a touch of cold water and stir again and that usually fixes the problem. Another tip is that if you’re adding anything to the sauce that tastes better cooked, cook it and have that ingredient ready before starting to prepare the cream sauce.