If you’re a cheese lover, you should take advantage of this amazing ingredient and use it in your recipes. Cheese sauces are great in casseroles and for topping main dishes, but also for making savory dips for fries or vegetables.
I love cheese, I adore it in all its shapes and sizes! I eat cheese with almost everything. Sliced or spread on toast, crumbled on top of a soup or a vegetable dish, melted over a piece of meat, in mac and cheese, with walnuts and a good wine, in any casserole dish or gratins, in sauces that I pour over different dishes, or as a dipping sauce.
To be honest, I could give up on meat anytime, but on cheese never! To me, cheese is more delicious than chocolate! If you are a cheese lover like me, learn how to make use of it not only as is but in a range of cheese sauces!
We’ll give you three options, but you can always upgrade your basic recipe by adding or replacing any type of cheese and spices. Be careful though! Make sure that you choose a cheese that melts, because some cheeses crumble without melting, and others break the sauce when heated.
To make cheese sauces, use mainly sharp Cheddar, Gruyere, Muenster, gorgonzola, chevre, gouda, parmesan, Emmental, brie, blue cheese.
3 basic cheese sauces
1. Mornay sauce
Mornay is a basic cheese sauce, being famous for its use in mac and cheese. So, forget about mac and cheese in a box and start making it at home, from A to Z!
Mornay sauce starts off like a Béchamel, only you have to add cheese. A Mornay sauce is a Béchamel sauce with shredded or grated Gruyère cheese added. You can also use different combinations of Gruyère, Emmental, parmesan, or white Cheddar.
Melt some unsalted butter (4-5 tablespoons) in a saucepan over moderately low heat, then add flour (6 tablespoons) and cook over low heat whisking constantly, for 3 minutes. Add milk (3 cups) in a stream, while whisking. Continue to whisk and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and gently simmer the sauce, while whisking occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add grated Gruyère cheese (1 ounce/30 grams), whisking, until melted. Season with salt, pepper, and grated nutmeg.
You can replace Gruyère with Emmental, or Cheddar cheese. You can enrich your sauce with egg yolks and cream for a very tasty result (that means some extra fat in your sauce!).
Using Cheddar in this sauce results into Cheddar sauce or Cheddar cheese sauce, which is a traditional sauce used in English cooking. It could be seen as an English equivalent of the French Mornay sauce.
Mornay sauce (and Cheddar sauce) can be used for the classic croque madame sandwich, lasagna, or in any casserole. You can also serve it on pasta, fish, or vegetables.
2. Four-cheese sauce
Who says that, when you make Mornay or Cheddar sauce, you can’t add other cheeses? Nobody! Still, there is one inconvenient: you cannot call it that way. If you want to combine more flavors in a sauce, make a four-cheese sauce!
The recipe requires heavy whipping cream (2 cups) and butter (1/2 cup). Add them to a medium saucepan, over medium heat, stirring frequently until the butter melts. Gradually stir in grated parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, shredded provolone cheese, and grated romano cheese (1/2 cup of each). Reduce the heat to low and continue to stir until all of the cheese is melted.
To make other versions, keep parmesan and replace the others with cream cheese, blue cheese, or Cheddar. Season the sauce with salt and freshly ground black pepper. You can also upgrade with fresh oregano, crushed garlic, or chopped chives.
Add to gnocchi, pasta, steamed vegetables, baked potatoes, or on top of a steak. Serve immediately, because the sauce will thicken upon standing.
3. Cheese fondue
Fondue is a Swiss dish of melted cheese served in a communal pot over a portable stove, heated with a candle or spirit lamp. You can eat one of the best cheese sauces by dipping bread into the cheese using long-stemmed forks. Since the 1950s, the name “fondue” has been generalized to other dishes like chocolate fondue, in which pieces of fruit or pastry are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture.
For now, let’s stick to cheese fondue, which is basically a sauce. If you want to make fondue for when having guests, start cooking the sauce once they have arrived - you'd want the sauce to be warm.
Because fondue comes from Switzerland, the cheeses most commonly used to make it are Swiss ones like Emmental and Gruyère. But you can use blue cheese and cheddar as well.
Rub the bottom of the pot you’re going to use with a cut clove of garlic, then discard the garlic. It helps put some good garlic flavor in the fondue. Add dry white wine (1 1/2 cups) to the pot and bring it to a simmer. Gradually add coarsely grated Emmental and Gruyère cheese (2 cups of each) to the pot and cook, stirring constantly in a zigzag pattern (not a circular motion) to prevent cheese from balling up. Stir until the cheese is just melted and creamy, but don’t bring it to a boil.
In a separate bowl, mix 1 tablespoon of cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of water and stir, then add the mixture into the fondue. Bring the fondue to a simmer and cook, while stirring until thickened, for about 5 to 8 minutes.
Transfer the fondue pot set over a flame and get all of your dipping ingredients and skewers or long-stemmed forks. You can eat cheese fondue with cubes of bread, garlic croutons, cubes of apple and pear, carrots sticks, roasted potatoes, steamed vegetables, avocado slices, potato chips, French fries, or cured meats.
If you like your cheese grilled, here are some tips to know what cheese goes hand in hand with your grill: Do Play with Fire: Which Are the Best Cheeses for Grilling?