One more fake food comes off my list of guilty pleasures.
I’m a sucker for nachos with cheese sauce. I’ve had the “cheese” sauce in jars and in cans. Have you ever read the ingredients in those things? Some of them don’t list a single dairy ingredient. That’s so nasty. But they taste so gooood.
I finally went looking for recipes to make nacho cheese sauce from real food. And maybe some actual cheese. (I know … crazy, huh?) So did it work? Well, like I said, one more fake food I won’t be needing any more.
1½ tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon corn starch
½ cup evaporated milk
1 ounce cream cheese, cubed
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1/8 cup Monterey Jack, shredded
½ tablespoon hot sauce (to start, see below)
1 tablespoon paprika
Some recipes work well when you prep one ingredient, put it in the pot, then prep the next. Some work better when you do a mise en place, where you prep everything and set it out before you start cooking. This recipe is definitely one where you should do a mise.
Shred the cheddar and the Monterey Jack. I couldn’t find any Monterey Jack at my grocery store, so I ended up with Colby-Jack.
I forgot how soft Jack cheeses get when they warm up. Like if you leave it out, say … long enough to stage and take a couple photos, then shred some cheddar, melt some butter and cream cheese … yes, what I did. Don’t do that. Keep the cheeses in the fridge until you’re ready to shred them. In fact, 15 minutes in the freezer first wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom sauce pan. Thin pans get hot spots, and it’s too easy to burn cheese.
Stir in the corn starch.
Add the milk. The recipe I was working from called for regular milk, but I had some evaporated left from the corn casserole. I doubt I could tell the difference, and wanted to use up what I had before it went bad.
Chop the cream cheese into small cubes so it will melt faster, and stir into the butter and milk until it’s melted and smooth.
Add the cheddar and stir until it is well melted.
Add the Jack and stir again.
Add the paprika.
The original recipe called for paprika and chili powder, but I had just used the last of my chili powder making the perfect chili. Considering how much the flavor of different chili powders and different kinds of paprika can vary, I don’t think this is an exact science anyway.
Same goes for the hot sauce. You could use anything from a straight habanero or cayenne sauce — Red Devil or Tabasco — to a mild tomato-based sauce. Start with a half tablespoon and see if you can taste it. Keep adding until it’s as hot as you like.
Stir well and serve hot. Unlike the fake cheese sauces, this one sets up again when it gets cold.
And that’s it.
Come back tomorrow to see what I served this with. And no, it’s not just nachos. Sign up using the form to the right to get it as soon as it comes out.
Want more like this? For more recipes like this, that you can hold right in your hands, and write on, take notes, tear pages out if you want (Gosh, you're tough on books, aren't you?) you might be interested in How To Cook Like Your Grandmother, 2nd edition, Illustrated. Or to learn your way around the kitchen, check out Starting From Scratch: The Owner's Manual for Your Kitchen.