There you are in your kitchen.
In your dining room are: (choose 1)
- Your new fiance and future in-laws (for the first time)
- The evaluating team from a major 'Cook Book Publisher'
- All of the friends you have been bragging to about your successful food blog
- Your mother, who threw her hands up in disgust the last time you cooked for her – 15 years ago
You are about to dazzle them with the perfect cheese sauce on the perfectly steamed, perfectly crisp-tender, perfectly green, perfectly shaped broccoli.
It's a simple side dish, designed to compliment the gourmet feast you have prepared.
As you add the cheese to the Béchamel something too horrible to contemplate happens….
You find yourself stirring a glob of stringy glue into a, now runny, watery, awful white sauce.
You grab the whisk.
The glob wraps itself around and through the whisk. How are you ever going to get it out?
You turn the heat up but it doesn't melt; it just gets stickier and harder….
You've ruined the whisk.
What the H*** happened? (You calmly ask yourself as you throw butter on the, now ice cold, broccoli)
Simple: You grabbed the wrong cheese and/or you used too much heat.
Some cheeses don't melt:
- Cottage cheese
- Fresh goat cheese
They can soften when they get hot but they don't run all over the place, which makes them great for lasagnes, enchiladas or anything that you want the cheese to stay where you put it.
Some cheeses melt but get stringy:
- Cheese curds and string cheese
- Queso Oaxaca
Great for playing with long streams of melted cheese from your pizza.
Most cheeses melt very nicely:
- Monterey Jack
Parmigiano-Reggiano is in a class of it's own – shredded or grated into a liquid it melts beautifully but not on it's own as it's so dry.
But even the cheeses that are known for melting will turn into the Glob of Glue if not handled properly.
- Shred, grate or cut into small chunks so they melt fast.
- High heat can cause the proteins to seize up, squeezing out water and fat. Use low heat and stir gently.
- Remove from direct heat as soon as it's 'almost' melted. It will finish on it's own.
Now…. What to do with that Perfect Cheese Sauce…..
Easy Mac & Cheese
1 1/4 cups pasta, tubes, macaroni, curly macaroni
2 tbs butter
2 tbs plus 2 tsp flour
1/4 tsp dry mustard
1 1/2 cups (12oz, 340gr) milk
2/3 cup (5oz, 150gr) shredded cheese, Fontina, Cheddar, Gruyère, or a combination
Cook pasta according to package directions.
When pasta is done, drain and put into a large bowl. Pour Béchamel over and stir until well combined. Sprinkle with pepper and serve.
Béchamel: In a medium saucepan heat the butter over low heat. Add flour and stir with a whisk for 1 minute. Add a little (1/4 cup) of the milk and whisk to combine. Turn heat up to medium and keep adding milk, a little at a time and whisking. You should have added all of the milk in a minute or 2. When all of the milk is in, bring to a boil (should almost be there), whisking. Remove from heat and stir in cheese. If the cheese cools down the Béchamel too much to melt, put it back over low heat, stirring until cheese has melted.
As to that broccoli….. Here's a White Cheese Sauce
Cauliflower with Cheddar Sauce
Plus my own trial and error….