This week’s featured recipe was created completely by accident. My husband was having a guy’s night, and as part of the usual routine I was going to make snacks. My goal that evening was to make a homemade nacho cheese dip. Unfortunately as I went about creating my dip, I quickly realized the consistency was too thin for dipping chips, and no matter how hard I tried, I could not get it to thicken up. While this was a complete failure of an attempt to make nacho cheese dip, the sauce tasted delicious. I wrote down my method, knowing I had made a cheese sauce that would taste incredible over potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli, and other foods of choice.
This cheese sauce has now become my go-to on loaded baked potato night, a dish that we have at least once per month. The cumin and cayenne in the sauce bring a slight zing that balances perfectly with potatoes, broccoli, and chicken. It has reached the point where baked potato night doesn’t seem the same without the addition of my spiced cheddar cheese sauce. If you are a cheese lover, and can’t resist a loaded potato, I highly recommend adding this sauce to your list of necessary toppings.
2 oz Shredded Monterey Jack Cheese (Shredded from a block)
2 oz Shredded Cheddar Cheese (Shredded from a block)
¾ cups Whole Milk
½ tbsp Butter
½ tbsp Flour
⅛ tsp Cayenne Pepper
⅛ tsp Cumin
⅛ tsp Salt
Kitchen Tip 1: Before beginning the sauce the cheeses need to be shredded. It is essential to grate the cheese from block form when making this recipe. Pre-shredded cheeses come with preservatives in the bag that can cause clumps and change the melting points. Using pre-shredded cheese can ruin this sauce before it has even been started, so do yourself a favor and shred your own cheese from blocks instead.
1. When all the ingredients for the sauce have been prepped, start by making a roux. This is done by melting down the butter and adding in the flour. Stir this combination consistently for thirty seconds to a minute. It is possible that the mixture will turn a slightly brown hue during this process. That is completely normal.
2. After the roux has been created, add in the milk. Lightly stir until the milk comes to a low boil.
Kitchen Tip 2: It is very important at this point in the recipe to use a rubber spatula and scrape the bottom and sides of the pan often to make sure the roux is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. If you notice that the roux seems to be sticking together in clumps instead of combining with the milk, feel free to whisk it for a little bit. Be careful if you have a metal whisk though, as whisking vigorously with a metal tool can ruin the bottoms of your pots.
3. When the milk is simmering, add in the cheeses, but DO NOT add them in all at once. Sprinkle in about a third of the cheese; then stir until they are combined. Continue to do this until the cheese is completely gone.
Kitchen Tip 3: Cheddar cheese occasionally struggles to melt, especially when it is added in too quickly. By combining it with the Monterey jack ahead of time, and then dumping it into the pot in three separate increments this helps the sauce to retain a smooth texture. If you notice a grainy texture to the sauce it means you combined the ingredients too quickly or that your milk wasn’t quite hot enough to begin with. The sauce will still taste good if this happens, but the texture will remain slightly off.
4. Once the cheese has been melted into the milk, add in the spices. Cumin occasionally clumps up during this process, so a whisk might be needed instead of a spatula to ensure that everything is properly combined together.
5. Continue to stir the sauce for 5 more minutes to allow the flavors to combine and the sauce to thicken; then serve warm over a dish of your choice.
Kitchen Tip 4: If you are not serving this sauce immediately make sure to keep it warm until you are ready to eat. This sauce does not reheat well, so it would be best to serve it immediately after it is finished.
If you are as addicted to cheese as I am, I am positive that you will love this sauce! It makes any vegetable tastier to eat. Enjoy!