Last night, the team (Grace, Paul, Nick, and I) reconvened for our first dinner since Paul returned from Montreal, and we pretty much picked up where we left off. Though it’s probably a fairly normal thing for most people, I thought we’d do something novel and have a dinner of meat, potatoes, and a vegetable – I called it a Dad meal, because it reminds me of the kind of meal you’d serve to a Dad, yours or otherwise.
It’s hard to have this many things for dinner when it’s just me and Nick, but with Grace and Paul in attendance, there were fewer leftovers and it was like a family dinner that didn’t involve any actual relatives. I made Hank Shaw’s Easy Duck Confit, a big dish of fluffy mashed potatoes, and broccoflower – straight out of 1992 – covered in cheese sauce.
As we’re heading into fall now, the temptation to cover everything in cheese is probably growing for you too. As hardier veggies start popping up in markets, I suggest bringing them home and covering them in this sauce. The sauce is most conducive to broccoli or cauliflower (or the weird genetic hybrid that is broccoflower), but you could put this over carrots, asparagus, spinach – whatever you’ve got. Also, this is pretty much the base I use when I make baked macaroni and cheese – obviously you’d add more cheese to that (obviously), but there you go. Look how versatile!
- 3 tbsp. butter
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup dry white wine
- 2 cups half and half (or cereal cream – aim for about 10% milk fat)
- 1 tsp. grainy Dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp. white pepper
- Pinch nutmeg
- 1 cup shredded Gruyere, sharp Cheddar, or other delicious, bold-tasting cheese (lightly packed – not pressed into a wad)
- 1/2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
- Salt, to taste
- 1 tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, melt butter over medium-high heat until it foams. Add garlic, then add flour, and whisk until the three ingredients form a paste.
Whisk in wine, then half and half, then mustard, pepper, and nutmeg. Reduce heat to medium, and whisk frequently until thickened, about three to five minutes.
Add cheese and Worcestershire sauce, and taste at this point. Is it good? Does it need salt? Add salt if you need to. Is it too thick for your liking? Add more wine or dairy. You get the idea. Whisk in the parsley right before you’re done.
Pour into a pitcher and then serve, dousing your veggies as much as you like. It will be just like you remember, only better, because now you can have as much sauce as you want.
Enjoy, and may the cheese-sauce season bring you warmth and please you.