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.
You've omitted the mustard and egg yolk which, if you're making sauce mornay, are essential ingredients otherwise what you're making is a common or garden cheese sauce.
G. Stephen Jones
Hi Willie, I'm sure the addition of mustard and egg yolk is fantastic after reading your email I searched for another Mornay sauce recipe with those ingredients and couldn't find any. Can you send me your source so I can fix this post? Thanks
Willie may be partially correct. The classic bechamel doesn't have either of those ingredients; but in the Original 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook there is an entry for a yellow bechamel sauce. This variation calls for adding three beaten egg yolks to two cups of bechamel.
I went to culinary school and we didn’t add mustard or eggs to our mornay?
Agreed, also a culinary school grad and egg/mustard are not taught as ingredients to Mornay. But we did learn that proper Mornay is Swiss, Guyere and Emmental in bechamel.
I'm no connisoir, just an Aussie who grew up on old fashioned (turn of the 18th-19th century learnt) British migrant cooking. Understandably, my mum learnt from her mum, but to cut a long story short, Mac was a cheese sauce & Mornay had more tang ..... but there's more than one type of Mornay eh.
This recipe comes from Cooks.com and is the only one with mustard and egg yolks I've seen. There are probably a few more such recipes;
1 1/2 c. med. Bechamel or Veloute Sauce
1/4 to 1/2 c. grated Gruyere, Swiss or sharp Cheddar cheese
1/4 c. grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tsp. Dijon mustard
3/4 tsp. dry mustard
2 egg yolks, beaten
Place Bechamel or Veloute Sauce in small heavy bottomed saucepan over low heat. Stir in cheeses and mustards. Add small amount of hot sauce to egg yolks, beating constantly. Return yolk mixture to sauce and blend thoroughly with whisk. Over low heat, bring sauce just to boiling point. Makes about 2 cups.
So for a french receipe some 400 years old the only expert is an american from 200 years ago.
Mustard and egg yolks maybe... but your sauce was fantastic! Thanks and I look forward to checking out your other recipes!
Added some garlic and served over seafood scollops. was a hit. will use again.
Adam R Bernstein
I learned a recipe with mustard but withour egg yolks, a vey long time ago. It was a recipe for broccoli baked in a cassarole with mornay sauce topped with toated parmesan, and the mustard was part of the flavor. I have been cooking it that way for over 40 years, but I can't remember where I saw the recipe.
Amazing Monray sauce can’t wait to use it in my restaurants!