Over Thanksgiving my mama took me to Trader Joe's and I was finally able to buy some real cheese. Oh how I love cheese. What's really wonderful is that I am no longer an overweight child so I can make myself an ooey gooey, buttery grilled cheese with (almost) no guilt and without having to dab the oil off the top before I eat it. Oh those days...
Anyway, the weekend after they left I was in my room going over slides of the respiratory system and I suddenly remembered I hadn't used the cheese yet. Oh no. Had it gone bad? Fortunately not and so I got to work making a cheese sauce to beat all cheese sauces.
I am always trying to perfect my cheese sauce - it really has to have a lot of flavor. That's key for me. So cheese and spices are very important. I always try for a semi-hard, semi-soft, and soft/tangy variety. I didn't have goat cheese one hand, so I used about a half cup of sour cream. Next a whole block of pepper-jack, and finally, a block of Trader Joe English Cheddar with a tiny bit left over for me to snack on because there is nothing as sinfully satisfying as biting into a block of cheese when no one is looking.
Too cute - tiny Tupperware for tiny cheese :0
Here's the recipe - enjoy and try experiment with your own combos.
"Good 'Ole English, nummy nummy cheddar!" in the words of Mouse on the Mayflower
- one large block pepper-jack cheese (I find the TJ brand is most flavorful and it super cheap for the amount you get)
- one block English Cheddar
- 2 cups milk
- 3 Tbs butter
- 2-3 Tbs flour
- salt, pepper, chili powder, red pepper flakes
- 2-3 Tbs heavy cream
- 2-3 Tbs ricotta
Start by making a rue. Let the butter melt under medium high, add the flour and cook quickly, stirring with a whisk. Add the milk and spices and let thicken - turn back the heat to medium. This takes about 5 to 7 minutes.
The bechemel (butter, flour, milk combo) should be thick enough that a run of the finger leaves an imprint on the back of a spoon.
If you mixture is too runny, add a slurry of 1/2 Tbs cornstarch and 1Tbs milk. Next, take off the heat and add the soft cheese and finally the pepper-jack and cheddar.
After making to sauce, you can actually freeze it for as much as a month. Let it cool to room temp before wrapping well and throwing into the freezer. When you are ready to use, try the "defrost" setting on your microwave till it's malleable, then finish reheating on the stove. Use shell pasta because it grabs the sauce nicely and cover with a breadcrumb/butter mixture before heating it in a 350 degree over for about a half hour. If you're like me and like a creamier consistancy, forego the oven, grab a bowl, and get to picking out the cheesiest shells ;)