Specialty dishes have long been named after the royal patrons or regional celebrities to whom they were first served. Mornay sauce is no exception; its origins are credited to the Duke of Mornay in France. This is a very rich and versatile sauce that can be blended into casserole dishes and gratins or drizzled over fresh vegetables, chicken, seafood or meats.
Things You'll Need
- 1/2 stick of butter (unsalted)
- 1/4 cup white flour
- 1 quart of whole milk
- White pepper
- 1 tsp. grated nutmeg
- 1 tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
- 1/4 cup Gruyere cheese (shredded)
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese (grated)
Melt a half stick of butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour to the melted butter and stir briskly for 2 to 3 minutes.
Pour in the milk, whisk briskly, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add a dash of salt, a dash of ground white pepper and the nutmeg, and simmer for approximately 10 minutes until the mixture thickens to a creamy consistency. This is a basic Bechamel sauce and the yield will be approximately 4 cups. If covered, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days and can be used in French dishes such as souffles, quiches and custard desserts.
Warm 1-1/2 cups of your basic Bechamel sauce in a medium size saucepan along with 1 tbsp. of butter. Pour in the heavy whipping cream, stir well and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Add both of the cheeses and continue simmering until they have melted. Add a dash of salt and a dash of ground white pepper. Like the Bechamel sauce, the Mornay sauce you have just created will keep in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Reheat gently if you're going to be spooning this over vegetables or cooked meats. If you're adding it to a recipe such as a casserole, it can be introduced to the mix without heating.
Tips & Warnings
- Before you put your Bechamel or Mornay sauce in the refrigerator (and while the mixture is still warm), lay some plastic wrap directly on top of it. This prevents an unattractive "skin" from forming on the surface.
- If you're counting calories (and who isn't?), you can substitute 2% milk for the whole milk and use low-fat cheeses. Because it's such a rich sauce, you might have a tendency to use more than you really should. In this recipe, you can easily use less as a topping and not lose any of the flavor. Think of these sauces as adding an amusing accent to the meal, not as a quest to totally drench it!
- You can save some prep time by purchasing cheeses in the deli or dairy section of your grocery store that have already been grated and shredded.
- Though the French are quite insistent that only Parmesan and Gruyere should find their way into a classic Mornay sauce, you may want to experiment with white cheddar, goat cheese or jack cheese for variety. As long as your cheese choice is semi-hard or hard, you're not going to have any problems.
- Do not substitute soft cheeses or cream cheese in this recipe as they will not melt evenly.
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