How to Make a Delicious White Mornay Sauce
I think of a Mornay sauce recipe as the older cousin of the Bechamel sauce recipe, which is confusing because Mornay is Bechamel with cheese added to it.
This would make you think Bechamel must have come before Mornay, but most people suspect Bechamel was created around the 1650s while they believe Mornay sauce was named after Philippe, Duc de Mornay, who lived from 1549 to 1623.
A mystery nonetheless.
Monty Python's Flying Circus
Let's not forget the classic line about spam from the Monty Python cafe skit with the Vikings in horned helmets and the waitress saying,
"or Lobster Thermidor a Crevette with a mornay sauce served in a Provencale manner with shallots and aubergines garnished with truffle pate, brandy and with a fried egg on top and spam."
What Cheese To Use
From everything I've found on the Internet, the cheese used back in the day was Gruyère, a hard cheese from Switzerland named after the city. French-styled Gruyère cheeses such as Comté and Beaufort would work just as well as other hard cheeses.
Emmentaler, a medium hard cheese from Switzerland, is also often used in making Mornay sauce, or it's sometimes combined 50/50 with Gruyère. However, I have also seen recipes for this sauce using Parmesan or cheddar, especially when making macaroni & cheese.
What to Serve Mornay Sauce With
Like Bechamel sauce, Mornay can be served on most foods if you want to add an extra layer of flavor. Typically you see it served with eggs, chicken, fish, vegetables, and shellfish, but you also can use it when making your favorite casseroles.
Restaurants use it to turn a simple steamed vegetable like broccoli or cauliflower into something "gourmet." Speaking of gourmet, how about macaroni & cheese? As easy as this sauce is to prepare, you can make the most fantastic mac & cheese at home, even better than the stuff in the box.
That's right, even better than the brand we grew up with and served our children. Not that there is anything wrong with mac & cheese from a box, but making it from scratch with Mornay sauce is exceptional.
Stay on top of this while preparing it, especially in the initial steps of making the roux. If you ignore it, you can burn the butter and flour in seconds. It's a quick sauce to make, so stay focused.
Mornay Sauce Recipe
- 3 tablespoons butter
- 3 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups milk
- pinch nutmeg ground
- salt and pepper to taste
- 2 ounces hard cheese grated, (Gruyère, Swiss, Cheddar, Parmesan)
- Heat a medium-sized saucepan over medium-high heat, and when hot, add the butter.When the butter melts, add the flour and start whisking. You want to be careful not to let the butter burn or the flour turn brown. It's only going to take a minute to a minute and a half for the roux to start turning a pale yellow.
- Slowly add the milk in a stream while constantly whisking and whisking some more. Bring the sauce to a boil, immediately lower the heat to a simmer, and continue cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, being careful not to let the sauce burn by whisking frequently.
- Remove the pan from the heat and add the nutmeg; season with salt & pepper and stir. You now have a bechamel sauce.
- Off heat, add the grated cheese, and whisk until all the cheese melts into the sauce. It should be thick and smooth.
- Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt & pepper, and you now have Mornay sauce.
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- This Is How I Make Indian-Style Sauce Base
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