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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Cheddar Cheese Sauce

Not everyone loves broccoli the way that I do; for those of you who prefer your broccoli with a bit of adornment, this sauce is the way to go. As easy as it is to make a real cheese sauce, I'm not sure why anyone would make one of those fake cheese sauces.

Sorry, folks, as far as I'm concerned, Velveeta is just not cheese. My husband loves the stuff though. Out of love for him, I suffer through the humiliation of having that yellow box in my shopping cart. I've been trying to break him of this habit ever since we got married... but, alas, I guess when you grow up with the stuff, it holds a special place in your heart. However, this sauce tastes great regardless of your affinity for those processed cheese sauces. This sauce is smooth and creamy. It's got a sweet edge from the shallots and and a tangy edge from the sour cream. It's a great combination. And you can make it in the time it takes to steam your favorite vegetable.

It starts with butter and shallots. Saute over medium heat. This just may be my favorite smell in the whole-wide world. It's completely different from the smell of sauteing onions or garlic, and it is perfect. Let them go until they are nice and soft.

Then add the flour and stir until the flour is all moistened. Add the sour cream and combine until smooth; then add the milk. Keep the heat around medium and stir regularly. Add the nutmeg and pepper. When the mixture begins to thicken, turn off the heat and add the cheese. Stir until the cheese is melted and the sauce is smooth. Lastly, taste and add salt as needed to season. If you want to add a special twist, add a small splash of cognac. Yowza!

The last point to remember is to let the sauce stand for a couple minutes before serving so that it can finish thickening up a bit. If you serve it immediately, it will still be a bit thin and will not stick to the vegetables as well.

Cheddar Cheese Sauce
Yield: about 1 1/2 cups sauce

1 TBS butter
1 TBS minced shallot
1 TBS flour
1 TBS sour cream
1 cup milk (whole milk is best)
sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg
dash of ground white pepper (or black)
2/3 cup grated cheddar cheese
salt to taste (cheese is salty, so go easy)

Saute the shallots in the butter over medium heat until they are nice and soft. In this case, you do not want them to brown too much. Add the flour and stir until it is completely moistened. Add the sour cream and stir throroughly. Then add the milk and stir until smooth. Add the nutmeg and pepper. Stir regularly over medium heat until the sauce just reaches a boil and begins to thicken. Remove from the heat and add the grated cheese. Stir until it is melted and the sauce is smooth. Taste and season as needed with salt. Let stand 3-4 minutes before serving so that the sauce can thicken slightly.

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