Friday, January 1, 2010

Cheese on toast

Serves 4-6

Last night was officially massive, we fed the best part of 2000 yesterday, and it all ended up with the cheese board getting massacred. Have to admit it that I assisted in this act of violence right at the end, but it was only to rescue a hunk of the Montgomery Cheddar for my late night cheese on toast. This, and a fresh bottle of bubbles at around 3am was the way I wanted to begin my new year without hesitation. Happy New Year one and all.

For the topping
50g unsalted butter
50g flour
250ml strong ale or stout
250g grated cheese (strong cheddar, ideally)
20ml Worcestershire sauce
10g English mustard
7g wholegrain mustard
1 egg yolk
Salt, pepper and fleur de sel

For the base
1 loaf of sourdough bread

Melt the butter and stir in the flour to make a roux. Heat the beer until hot but not boiling and gradually add to the roux, stirring constantly over a low heat, but taking care not to overwork. Melt the grated cheese in a bowl over a pan of boiling water and pour into the mixture; stir once to amalgamate, and then remove from the heat. Add the Worcestershire sauce, both mustards, the egg yolk, salt and pepper, then blitz in a food processor until emulsified (it will look matt and pale). Again, do not overwork. Check the seasoning. Allow to cool before refrigerating — it will easily keep for a week in the fridge.

If you have a char grill, preheat it now; or turn the oven to 225c/gas mark 7. Cut the loaf into 1in slices, allowing 1 or 2 slices per person. Brush both sides of the bread with melted butter and char grill or put in the oven for 5 minutes to toast. Melt 40g-50g of the cheese mix per slice, pour over the bread and cook at the same temperature for 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Sprinkle a few grains of salt crystals on top and serve, with some extra Worcestershire sauce and a few cornichons on the side. Bliss.