Mornay Sauce

Try one of the other five French Mother Sauces

After my detailed approach to explaining Béchamel, you’re probably thinking that Mornay will be twice as complicated since it came in at number two. Well you couldn’t be more wrong. After you’ve mastered Béchamel sauce, Mornay sauce is a breeze; especially because it’s really just Béchamel sauce with melted cheese.

So, the ingredient list is the same as the list above for Béchamel with the addition of cheese. What kind of cheese and much is a matter of taste and what you’re going to use the sauce for. If I’m making Mac and Cheese, I use mild cheddar. If I’m making white lasagna, I use mozzarella with some Monterey Jack tossed in. If I’m making green chili enchiladas, I go with mozzarella and Pepper Jack. You get the idea right? If I’m making Swedish Meatballs, I use Havarti cheese.

How much cheese to use depends on how thick you want the final sauce. For the recipe above, I go with two handfuls of grated cheese and get a medium thick sauce. Forgive my lack of precise measurement, but this is cooking where life is measured in a pinch here and dash there. When we get to baking, you’ll see me measure ingredients to the gram, but cooking has more flare and personal expression. The ingredients then are

  •  2 TBL butter
  •  2 TBL flour
  •  1/8 tsp salt and a dash of pepper
  •  1 cup milk (2% if you have it)
  •  pinch of nutmeg (optional)
  • 2 cups grated cheese – doesn’t have to be grated

The process for making Mornay is the same as making Béchamel, so

  1. Make the roux: On medium heat, melt butter in a medium sauce pan. Once the butter is melted, stir in flour. Since this sauce is a white sauce, be careful not to overcook the roux or it will brown. You’ll know the roux is ready for milk when it becomes silky smooth with the desired color.
  2. Add the milk: While stirring the roux, slowly add milk in stages. As soon as you add the first portion of milk the roux will suddenly thicken. Don’t worry about this, just keep slowly adding milk as you stir and it will loosen up. You want to slowly loosen the roux to prevent the sauce from having lumps. Once all the milk has been added, bring sauce to boil making sure to stir frequently.
  3. Simmer the sauce: As soon as the sauce begins to boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow the sauce to thicken. While the sauce is simmering add salt and pepper to taste. It’s a good idea to add both gradually, a little at a time, tasting between additions. It can take a few moments for the sauce to acquire it spice profile but if you over spice, your screwed. The goal in French sauces is to have the salt awaken the taste profile without being dominate.
  4. Add Cheese: While sauce is simmering, add the shredded cheese. Some recipes will say to mix the sauce at this point or to use an immersion blender but to be honest, I’ve found that just letting it melt in the hot sauce is sufficient. Maybe I don’t make my sauce thick enough?

Sauce is ready when cheese is melted, usually in less than a minute after step two.

Mac & Cheese with Mornay Sauce

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