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Thread: Broken sauce

  1. #1
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    Broken sauce

    Last night I made some scalloped au gratin potatoes, with a layer of thin sliced ham and a little lacinto kale for color. I cooked some onions in a 1/4 cup of butter, then stirred in a tablespoon of flour, followed after cooking it in by 1 3/4 cups of milk and a cup and a half of cheese and brought it to a boil then simmered a minute or so until it thickened. This was poured over the potato assemblage and baked at 325 for 1 hour 20 minutes, then a bread crumb cheese topping followed by another 20 minutes to brown.
    The dish came out of the oven with a pool of clear liquid around the perimeter of the spuds. When removing a serving the presence of what looked like curds were in the liquid. I assume that this is what is known as a "broken sauce". Can anyone tell me how to this happened and what I can do to prevent another occurrence?
    Thanks for any insight!

    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

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    Old Mister Spike, sat on a dike, eating his curds and whey. Don't boil cheese! Make the bechamel, then whisk in the cheese when it's off the heat. Also, what kind of cheese are we talking here? Some cheeses are more tolerant of prolonged exposure to high temps than others.

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    One cup of Tillamook white vintage extra sharp cheddar and 1/2 cup of gouda.
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

  4. #4
    You used one quarter cup of butter to 1 tbsp of flour? That's a 3 to 1 ratio of fat to flour.

    The amount of flour is less than what is usually used. An additional tbsp of flour would have likely made a more stable sauce. Many recipes call for a 3 to 2 or 4 to 3 ratio of fat to flour. You could have even used a 1 to 1 ratio of fat to flour, although that could have made your milk and cheese mixture too thick.
    Michael
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    Cheddar turns to chunky slop when it boils. Get the bechamel to a simmer long enough to cook out the flour taste, take it from the heat, then whisk in the cheese. I can't promise you that nearly 2 hours at 325 won't still kick it's butt though, but you'll have a better start.

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    I got the basic recipe from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. I thought the flour/butter ration looked odd, but tried it as written. The recipe called for natural sharp cheddar, and the boiling for a minute was part of the instructions.
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vertigo View Post
    Old Mister Spike, sat on a dike, eating his curds and whey. Don't boil cheese! Make the bechamel, then whisk in the cheese when it's off the heat. Also, what kind of cheese are we talking here? Some cheeses are more tolerant of prolonged exposure to high temps than others.
    +1

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    Quote Originally Posted by SpikeC View Post
    I got the basic recipe from an old Betty Crocker Cookbook. I thought the flour/butter ration looked odd, but tried it as written. The recipe called for natural sharp cheddar, and the boiling for a minute was part of the instructions.
    Betty Crocker, while and excellent source of some culinary knowledge, may not have been the leading authority on Mornay sauces.

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    So who has a good au gratin potato recipe?
    I have a couple of passaround knives that need more work to do!
    Spike C
    "The Buddha resides as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain."
    Pirsig

  10. #10
    I'll tell you what happened!

    You didn't have enough fat in the sauce to keep the proteins from bundling up on each other and making buddies when the heat got too high. Next time, use half-and-half, or better yet, cream. If your dairy is at least 24% milkfat, it will not curdle without severe convincing--you can boil it down to like 1/6 of it's previous volume and it won't do anything but get thicker and maybe brown.

    White wine has an enzyme in it that will help prevent curdling.

    Having a thickener suspended in your sauce will help too, just like the fat.




    This is all information I got from On Food and Cooking. After reading that chapter, at work, I made an Alfredo sauce with cream, chicken stock, parmesan cheese, lemon juice, a goodly amount of blonde roux, white wine, herbs, salt and pepper. I let it full-on boil for 15 minutes, and all that happened was it got thick and delicious.

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