Up Your Nachos Game
Cheesier Nacho Cheese Sauce
Classic nacho cheese sauce has a gooey, melty texture but barely tastes like cheese. Aged cheeses, such as cheddar, have rich, complex flavor but make for grainy sauces when melted. We think we’d all be a lot better off if we lived in a cheese sauce world where we didn’t have to choose between texture and flavor—and it turns out, we don’t. In 2011 Modernist Cuisine popularized the use of sodium citrate, an emulsifying salt, to defy cheese logic and make gooey nacho cheese from the good stuff. In this recipe, we use a mixture of aged cheddar and Gruyère for tangy, nutty, and complex cheese flavor. And we add a tiny amount of Swiss cheese to improve texture. According to Dean Sommer, cheese and food technologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Swiss cheese (the classic fondue cheese) “is at the top of the list for long body, intact casein, and bound insoluble calcium,” key attributes when it comes to melting and creamy mouthfeel. The result? A cheese sauce that will make you forget all about the instant-regret queso-pump nachos of the past.
By Kate Shannon
What most Americans think of as “Swiss cheese” is the mild, holey stuff called Emmentaler. That cheese is fine for slicing thin and piling on ham sandwiches, but it bears little resemblance to its fellow citizen, Gruyère. The latter, which has been made in the eponymous alpine region of Switzerland for more than 900 years, is pleasantly firm and dense, slightly crumbly, and boasts that faint crystalline crunch that high-quality aged cheeses such as cheddar and Parmesan are known for. Good versions taste deeply nutty and have sweet, fruity tang; nice salinity; and a good bit of earthy funk.