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What Is Mornay Sauce?
Mornay sauce is a cheesy variation on béchamel sauce, one of the five foundational French mother sauces. Mornay sauce features a base of flour, milk, egg, and butter, kept warm enough to melt a mix of freshly grated parmesan and gruyère, producing a thick, velvety white cheese sauce.
How to Serve Mornay Sauce
Mornay sauce works best in dishes with rich ingredients.
- As a base: Use Mornay as the base sauce for macaroni and cheese—or as a minimalist sauce for other pasta dishes like ravioli.
- As a substitute for heavy cream: Instead of just heavy cream, use Mornay to make steakhouse-style creamed greens like kale or spinach.
- As a finish: Mornay sauce adds the finishing touch on a Croque madame or Croque monsieur and makes a rich sauce for roasted cauliflower steaks.
- In casseroles: Use Mornay sauce to add a cheesy component to casseroles with vegetables, meat, pasta or rice.
What Is the Difference Between Mornay Sauce and Béchamel Sauce?
As the reigning rich, velvety white sauces in the French canon, there’s one crucial difference between béchamel and Mornay: Cheese. The addition of cheese to Mornay takes the sauce one step further into gooey, melty territory while still maintaining a certain elegance and a depth of flavor.
- Sauce béchamel, as it’s known in French, is a versatile white sauce and the base of a variety of comfort food dishes. As one of five mother sauces in French cuisine, it’s easy to master, with only a few ingredients—butter, whole milk, flour, eggs, and salt. Béchamel starts with a classic French white roux: a few tablespoons flour and a few tablespoons butter—cooked together in a heavy saucepan to form a thick paste before the addition of milk. Milk is slowly whisked into the mixture and cooked until it takes on a creamy consistency.
- Mornay sauce is a cheese sauce made in the same manner as a classic béchamel, but with the addition of grated cheese. With the béchamel sauce over low heat, stir in gruyère cheese, Emmental (also known as Swiss cheese), or white cheddar cheese—any melting cheese works, but those three are the classics. Parmesan cheese, mozzarella, or a combination of different cheeses are also popular choices.
Mornay Sauce Recipe
Makes2 cups of Mornay sauce
Prep Time5 min
Total Time20 min
Cook Time15 min
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon nutmeg
- 1 ½ cups grated cheese of choice
- Freshly ground black pepper or white pepper
- First, you’ll need to make a roux. In a medium saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter. Gradually add the flour and stir until smooth. Cook the mixture for 2–3 minutes, keeping a close eye on it to avoid unwanted burning.
- In a separate saucepot, heat the milk until it is just about to boil. Add the hot milk to the butter mixture, ½ cup at a time, constantly whisking. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened and glossy, about 10 minutes. Turn heat off. Slowly add egg yolk and whisk to incorporate. Season with salt and nutmeg.
- Add the cheese, and return to low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Taste for seasoning and adjust with more butter or milk as needed to reach the consistency you prefer.
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