To learn more about this recipe, read the related story, "Sauce Boss," in our National edition.
Sharp Cheddar SauceRecipe from Modern Sauces (Chronicle) by Martha Holmberg
Yield: 3 cups
Cook Time: 12 minutes
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2¼ cups whole milk, divided
1 cup lightly packed grated extra-sharp aged cheddar cheese
¼ cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
½ teaspoon kosher salt
⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch cayenne pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the butter and flour over medium-high heat, whisking until the butter is melted. Once the butter is melted, continue whisking until it becomes a paste, about 1 minute.
2. Remove the pan from the heat and pour in ¼ cup milk. Whisk vigorously to make a smooth paste, then, while the pan is still off the heat, whisk in the remaining 2 cups milk.
3. Return the pan to medium-high heat and bring the béchamel sauce to a simmer, whisking often, until smooth and glossy and no taste of flour remains, 8 to 10 minutes. As the mixture simmers, be sure to use a rubber spatula to scrape down the sides and edges of the pan where the sauce can build up (otherwise your sauce will be lumpy).
4. Reduce the heat to low, add the cheeses and whisk until completely melted. Add the salt, pepper, cayenne and nutmeg, then taste and adjust the seasoning. Serve immediately.
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