It’s cheese sauce season, the time when even the vegetables need to be made cozy and warm. This recipe for cheese sauce (a.k.a. Mornay Sauce) is fast; better still, you can make it ahead of time and just reheat. After a few goes, it’ll become an easy staple.

Cheese_Sauce_Pouring

This is also the base for mac and cheese. You can switch up the cheese to keep it child-mild or make it a little more sophisticated (try Gruyere or Fontina or Comte) for a gourmet dinner.

Cheese_Sauce_Broccoli

RECIPE: Cheese Sauce
Makes 2 cups of sauce

Ingredients
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1½ cups 2% milk
1 cup shredded cheddar, Gruyere or Emmanthal cheese
nutmeg
salt and pepper

Cheese_Sauce_Ingredients

The other nice thing is that as long as you have a block of cheddar in the fridge you probably have everything you need in the pantry.

Cheese_Sauce_Flour
 

Put a saucepan on the stove over med-low heat. Add 2 tbsp butter and let them melt, the butter will foam a little and once that subsides add 2 tbsp flour.

Cheese_Sauce_Roux

This mixture will become your roux. It’ll thicken the sauce. You need to stir it constantly (to prevent burning) with a spatula for about 2-3 minutes. You want to cook out the starchy texture of the flour.

Cheese_Sauce_Milk

Now, pull the roux off the stove and let it cool for 30 seconds (just so the milk doesn’t scald when it hits the hot pan) before adding 1½ cups milk. Put the pot back on the stove, bringing the mixture to a simmer. Again, stir constantly (I use a whisk) until the sauce thickens.

Cheese_Sauce_Spoon

Once thickening, you can test for the right consistency by dipping in a wooden spoon. You should be able to run your finger through the sauce so it holds a “line.”

Cheese_Sauce_Nutmeg

Adding some fresh nutmeg (very French!) gives the sauce a nice, warm nuance. Start with a little and taste it.

Cheese_Sauce_Cheese

Pull the sauce off the heat and add 1 cup shredded cheese. Just mix it in until it melts completely. Season if needed.

Cheese_Sauce_Serve

You can let everyone add the sauce on their own or just pour it over a big family-style plate of veggies.

Cheese_Sauce_Saran_Wrap

If you make this in advance, cool it on the stove with a layer of Saran wrap on it (to prevent a skin) — but punch a few holes, to allow steam to escape. Then, refrigerate in Tupperware.

RECIPE: Cheese Sauce
Makes 2 cups of sauce

Ingredients
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp flour
1½ cups 2% milk
1 cup shredded cheddar, Gruyere or Emmanthal cheese
nutmeg
salt and pepper

Instructions
1. Put a saucepan on the stove over medium-low heat. Add butter and melt until foaming subsides.
2. Add the flour to make a roux. Stir constantly (so it doesn’t burn) for about 2-3 minutes until the starchiness of the flour gets cooked out.
3. Pull the saucepan off the heat and allow to cool slightly. Pour in your milk. Put the mixture back onto medium heat and bringing it to  a simmer. Stir or whisk constantly until the sauce thickens and is very smooth.
4. Stir in a pinch of grated nutmeg.
5. Take the sauce off the heat and stir in the grated cheese until smooth. You can thin the sauce with extra milk, if needed.

 

Sue_RiedlSue Riedl is a Toronto-based food writer with a passion for cheese who writes a column called The Spread for The Globe and Mail. She loves to push stinky cheese on her 3-year-old.

Related: