The first time I tried to make a cheese sauce from scratch, it turned out to be a clumpy mess. Based on my experiences with making Kraft Dinner, I added grated cheese to hot milk and stirred, hoping that the sauce would thicken up. Guess what happened? The cheese and the milk stayed completely separate. In fact, the grated cheese melted slightly and coagulated into little cheese clusters in the hot milk. It was a good learning experience– now I know not to add cheese to hot milk to make cheese sauce, lest I want to end up with cheese ball soup.
The proper way of making a cheese sauce (where, you know, the cheese melts into the sauce) is to first make a béchamel sauce with flour, fat, and milk, then add in grated cheese. For this recipe, I included a bit of shallot and prepared mustard to give the dish some extra bite.
Pasta with Creamy Cheese Sauce and Poached Egg
- 2 tsp light-coloured vinegar (apple cider, white, or rice would work)
- 3 eggs
- 3 tbsp fat (butter tastes better, I used oil and it turned out fine)
- 1 shallot, minced
- 1.5 tbsp all purpose white flour
- 2 cups milk
- 1 cup grated cheese of your choice, something that melts nicely is good (cheddar, mozzarella, harvarti, oka, oxana, or a blend!)
- 1.5 tsp prepared mustard
- white pepper to taste
- ~200 g egg noodles
- Basil leaves, for garnish
- Fill a small sauce pan with 2 inches of water, heat until you see small bubbles rising occasionally to the top. Add vinegar to the water.
- Crack 1 egg into a small bowl (or a ladle), bring it very close to the water’s surface, and slide it into the water. Repeat with other 2 eggs.
- Cook over medium-low heat for ~2 minutes, or until egg whites are coagulated but yolk is still runny. Submerge the poached eggs in a bowl of room-temperature water while you prepare the sauce and pasta.
- Microwave the milk until warm.
- In a large pot, sauté the shallot in fat over medium heat until translucent. Add flour and cook for 1 minute. The mixture, called a roux, should look like wet sand. If it doesn’t, adjust the amount of oil/flour.
- Add the warmed milk slowly, whisk to break up lumps of roux. You may not need all the milk, or may need more, adjust accordingly.
- Cook the sauce for 10 minutes, scrape the bottom of the pot to prevent burning.
- Boil a pot of salted water for the pasta.
- Add cheese, cook and stir the sauce to melt cheese. Once the cheese is melted, cook noodles in the pot of boiling water until soft but not mushy, drain and add to the cheese sauce.
- Mix thoroughly, portion into 3 bowls, top with poached egg and basil leaves.