That’s how I felt when I tried to make “queso”, a sauce that seems like it should be relatively easy to make, but has eluded me yet again.
The problem is, with all of the research that I’ve done online to make homemade queso, each recipe that I found seem kind of… gross. And listen, I am a huge supporter of other like me in the blogosphere trying to make their niche. I’d never call somebody out for doing their thing. But, some of the recipes I’ve tried have made for less-than-stellar results. One I tried used gelatin as a thickener, but I felt like the this just made for a weird texture. Other recipes had a suspiciously low cheese-to-other-ingredients ratio. Seriously, how could it even taste like cheese at that point??
Spoiler alert: it doesn’t.
I tried a few of these recipes, but nothing gave me the flavor, texture and color I was looking for in a Latin-flavored dish. Therefore, I decided I had to look outside the Latin culinary world and find an alternative to make my sauce.
My imaginary travels led me to this Mornay Sauce. Basically, a Mornay is a fancy way of describing the sauce you would typically use on macaroni and cheese. It’s a heavy, cheesy sauce that gave me exactly what I was looking for.
I used a pepper jack cheese for this recipe. This is basically a white Monterey Jack cheese with little pepper bits in it. When melted into a milk-based sauce, you get the cheese flavor with a smooth consistency and the white queso appearance I was going for. Plus, it stays creamy even at room temperature, which was also a plus.
This is my own circuitous route I took to getting to a good “queso-like” sauce that will work with a number of Latin-style foods!
Pepper Jack Mornay Sauce
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk
1 8 oz. brick pepper jack cheese, grated
Salt and pepper to taste
Melt butter in a pot over medium heat. Add flour and stir to create a roux. Let this cook for 2 to 3 minutes.
Add milk and whisk for 3-5 minutes. The sauce should be smooth and slightly thick.
Add the grated cheese and stir until the sauce is smooth.
Season to taste.