Here’s a basic recipe you can use in tons of cooking: Mornay sauce. This classic old-school cheesy French white sauce is an awesomely versatile sauce, which goes great with poultry, fish, vegetables, eggs, and pasta. It takes only a few minutes to make; it’s basically a bechamel sauce with extras added in (cheese, butter, cream, curry, etc).

I decided to make a mac & cheese with a Mornay sauce recipe adapted from Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I had all of the ingredients already, which was a bonus. Hurray for simple basics! 🙂

Here’s how my Mac & Mornay turned out – both the plain version and then one with sauteed portobello mushroom strips tossed in.

Mac and Cheese - French Mornay Sauce - Simple but delicious recipe

 

Pasta with Cheesy Mornay Sauce Recipe - tossed with sauteed portabello mushroom strips

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 1 lb. boxed Penne pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 c. milk
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 Tbs. butter
  • 3 Tbs. flour
  • 1/2 c. grated cheese (Swiss, Gruyere, white cheddar, or a Swiss/Parmesan mix)
  • 1 Tbs. softened butter
  • white pepper, to taste
  • additional salt, if needed for taste
  • freshly grated nutmeg, to taste
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • optional add-ins: sauteed mushrooms, etc.

WHAT YOU DO:

In a small saucepan, heat milk and 1/4 tsp. salt to a boil. Keep hot.

Make the roux: In a large saucepan, melt butter over low heat. Blend in flour, and stir gently until the mixture froths together for two minutes without changing color.

Remove from heat. As soon as bubbles stop, pour in the milk/salt from the saucepan. Whisk quickly to blend, making sure to incorporate all the roux from the pan’s edges.

Place saucepan on medium-high heat and whisk until sauce comes to a boil. Boil for one minute while stirring.  Remove from heat. Add cheese and stir until melted, then add butter, and remaining spices (pepper, salt, nutmeg, cayenne) to taste.

Add the sauce to the pasta, and any optional add-ins, and stir to combine. Voila!

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