Books

The 2-Ingredient Cheese Sauce We Want to Put on Everything

Taleggio, we love you.

April  9, 2019
Photo by Julia Gartland

One of the greatest recipes from one of the greatest restaurants led by one of the greatest chefs in the country was inspired by, of all things, Cheez-Whiz. Surprising? Perhaps. But that’s Estela.

In his recently released cookbook, Chef Ignacio Mattos writes:

Before moving to New York, I ran the kitchen at Francis Mallmann’s summer restaurant Patagonia West in the Hamptons. Late at night after my shifts, I’d go to the only place in town that was open: a 7-Eleven. I’d almost always grab one of those taquitos and pump Cheez Whiz all over it. One night toward the end of the season, the clerk, who had seen me perform this ritual many times, smiled at me and said, “My friend, you really love America.”

Such was the inspiration for Estela’s Taleggio sauce, which sounds infinitely more sophisticated than Cheez-Whiz—but is only two ingredients: Taleggio cheese and heavy cream (plus salt to taste). You heat the cream, pour it over the cheese, let the two get to know each other, then blend them together. That’s it.

Because the ingredient list is so small, I asked Mattos why he went with Taleggio, a semisoft Italian cheese with a washed rind. “It’s funky and has truffle and barn-like notes,” he told me. “It’s rich and also decadent.”

Sold. I love how pungent the flavor is, while still making way for whatever you’re pouring the cheese sauce on. If you can’t find Taleggio, don’t let this stop you from riffing. In the test kitchen, we swapped in Brie to see if it would work—and, yep, sure did. The flavor was milder, but still worth pouring on anything.

On Estela’s menu, you’ll find the Taleggio sauce alongside steak. But Mattos loves it with a lot more than that. His favorite ways include: “with a burger, on roasted Brussels sprouts, or used as a dip for fries.”

We can confirm it’s excellent on roasted potatoes—and have a whole wish list of things we want to Taleggio sauce-ify:

  • Sautéed kale on garlic bread
  • Crispy hot dog with mustard and pickles
  • Whole-roasted carrots
  • Salty, blanched asparagus
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Pasta!

More Cheese, Please

Let us know what you’d add to the list in the comment section below.

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