Winter comfort food doesn’t get much better than this
4 slices sourdough
20g unsalted butter
20g plain flour
200ml amber ale
100g mature cheddar, finely grated, plus extra for sprinkling
1–2 tsp Marmite, to taste
1 Preheat grill to high. Toast the sourdough, either under the grill or in a toaster.
2 Put the butter in a small saucepan over a medium heat. Once the butter has completely melted, add the flour and beat to a thick paste with a wooden spoon.
3 Still on the heat, add a splash of the ale and beat in. The mixture will turn into a very thick paste but just keep beating. Add the ale gradually, beating well after each addition. As the mixture gets looser, switch to a whisk and whisk continuously, while pouring in the ale – it’s easier to get rid of any lumps while the mixture is thicker, so whisk like your life depends on it and add the ale gradually. Allow the sauce to come to
a boil then reduce to a gentle simmer and leave it to cook for about 10 mins,
4 Once the floury taste has cooked out of the sauce – test it to be sure – add a generous pinch of black pepper (I wouldn’t use any salt until the end as Marmite can season this enough). Add the cheese and stir over a low heat until melted. Add the Marmite a little at a time, to taste – you may think more is more, but do go carefully; a little goes a long way. Taste for seasoning, adding more pepper and salt if required.
5 Spoon the sauce onto the slices of toast and sprinkle over a little more grated cheese. Place under the hot grill for a minute or two, until the sauce bubbles up and burnished, blackened little flecks appear.
Recipe from Comfort by John Whaite (Kyle Books).