Based on Béchamel as its mother sauce.
Almost all people love cheese, we like to chew on them as is, we like to sandwich them, we love to melt them, we love to turn them into sauces and we love to grate them over our food. And if that was not enough, we even dice them in our salads! Yup, you figured, I am one of those people. The cheese sauce, is perhaps one of the most luxurious, velvety, rich and comforting things to eat. It is perhaps the most incredible experience!
(if you are thinking that whiz bottled rubbish, then shame on you! That is not what I am talking about!!! Of course not! I am telling you about the real thing, the real deal, the good stuff, the sauce that that whiz cheese was inspired from!)
Cheese sauce is super easy to make, you do know how to make a Béchamel? Well Béchamel is the mother sauce of cheese sauce so if you know how to make a Béchamel sauce then you know how to make a Sauce Mornay or a cheese sauce… Why am I using two names? Well read on…
From France’s Mornay to your cinema’s whiz cheese!
A Mornay sauce is a Béchamel sauce with added shredded or grated Gruyère cheese. Some variations use different combinations of Gruyère and Emmental cheese, others even mix in other cheeses. For instance the English cuisine created a cheese sauce based on the French Mornay only using aged English cheddar and named it a Cheddar Cheese Sauce or simply Cheese Sauce. The American cuisine then built on that using their American yellow cheddar that then became American Cheese Sauce. Then, someone at home could not be bothered to make a cheese sauce and thought a product has to be made so that cheese sauce is readily available. Unfortunately, that took place during the industrial era where creating highly processed foods was acceptable. As such whiz cheese was created and a whole generation of people have no idea that it is the rubbish of cheese sauces and that the original Mornay is way more luxurious, flavoursome and good for you!
The name origin of Sauce Mornay is debatable. According to “Cuisine Bourgeoise, History of Gastronomy” it may be named after Philippe, duc de Mornay (1549–1623), Governor of Saumur and seigneur du Plessis-Marly, writer and diplomat, but a cheese sauce during that time would have to have been based on a velouté sauce as Béchamel had not yet been developed. Also Sauce Mornay does not appear in Le cuisinier Royal, 10th edition, 1820, that includes every other one. Perhaps sauce Mornay is not older than the great Parisian restaurant of the 19th century, Le Grand Véfour in the arcades of the Palais-Royal, where sauce Mornay was introduced.
The English Cheddar Sauce, Cheddar Cheese Sauce, or Cheese Sauce is a traditional sauce used in English cooking. It is also a cheese sauce based on Béchamel sauce and is the English equivalent of the French Mornay sauce. The sauce is made by adding an amount of cheddar cheese to white sauce that is then spiced using English mustard, Worcestershire sauce and pepper among other ingredients. A product has been created out of this, as it can be purchased both as a ready to use sauce and as a powder in British supermarkets.
Finally, the swiss have their own cheese sauce too, which is quite different from all the cheese sauces. The Swiss Raclette, is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese that is usually fashioned into a wheel of about 6 kg. It is most commonly used for melting. It is also a Swiss dish based on heating the cheese and scraping off the melted part (check out the video below). This melted Raclette is also widely used in making a sauce and some even add it to Bechamel, already melted. Thus in a way recreating the Mornay.
So I guess we have the french to thank for creating the cheese sauce. Make it at home, it is worth the effort and is a proper cheese sauce. It is so delicious, you will want to eat it by the spoonfuls! Nothing like those processed flavours of the medicinal, mass produced, Food & Drug Association approved Whiz!!