Sauce Mornay

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

Appears in

Sauces

By James Peterson

Published 1991

  • About

Method

Sauce Mornay is usually used as the base for cheese soufflés or for gratins. When it is used for gratins, additional cheese and sometimes breadcrumbs and butter are added to its surface to encourage the formation of a crust. Sauce Mornay is made by adding grated cheese to sauce béchamel. Be sure to choose a full-flavored, well-aged cheese for this sauce. If the cheese is too young, the sauce will not only lack flavor but will be stringy.

Classic recipes use half grated Gruyère and half grated Parmesan (at least three-year-old Parmigiano-Reggiano), but the sauce can be made with other well-aged, honest cheese. English farmhouse Cheddar and Vermont Cheddar (not the commercial kind that has been dyed orange) both work well. Blue cheeses can also be incorporated into Mornay sauces, but be sure to taste and select them carefully to avoid some of the poor-quality versions that have a coarse, sour-milk smell and flavor. Select genuine Roquefort, Stilton, Gorgonzola, Fourme d’Ambert, or Bleu d’Auvergne. Keep in mind that blue cheeses tend to make sauces a bit gray.

To prepare Sauce Mornay, add approximately 4 ounces (115 to 125 grams) cheese per quart (liter) of béchamel. Stir the sauce just long enough for the cheese to melt; overcooking the cheese can cause it to turn stringy. Some recipes call for finishing Mornay with egg yolks (about 2 per quart/liter of sauce). This is useful if the sauce is being used as a base for cheese soufflé, but otherwise the yolks contribute little to the sauce except unnecessary richness.

At times, if the cheese is too young, a Sauce Mornay may break. To avoid this, you can blend hydrocolloid stabilizers (0.15% percent xanthan gum and 1% lambda carrageenan) into the béchamel before adding the cheese.