Author Topic: Four Cheese Sauce problems  (Read 1652 times)

Offline Bob

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Four Cheese Sauce problems
« on: October 29, 2012, 10:10:53 PM »
Hi,

I tried unsuccessfully on the weekend to make a four cheese sauce for pasta. I made two attempts, each using different cheeses from a selection of Mozzarella, Provolone, Gruyere, Cheddar, Parmesan.  I heated some cream and butter, then added the cheeses to the sauce to melt. The problem I experienced was when adding and melting the cheese, I reached a point where the cheese suddenly solidified in the sauce and separated from the cream, leaving me with a light creamy sauce with a solid lump of blended cheese in the bottom of the saucepan!  :(

Any ideas on why this happened would be much appreciated. I'm sure some of the expert cheese chefs on this forum can help me!
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2012, 12:16:06 AM »
You need to bind the fat and protein matrix together. Heat separates them and you need an emulsion to keep them together. For this, a classic solution is plain cornstarch. Else, you can use an emulsifier. Another possibility is using a hydrocolloid and strengthening the existing gel, shoring it up and trapping the fats and proteins more evenly.

In your current state of the sauce, I would make a roux from the separated fat and puree everything together.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 12:48:39 AM by linuxboy »
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Offline Bob

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2012, 01:07:12 AM »
Thanks lb,  the roux solution sounds like a good option.

 
Heat separates them and you need an emulsion to keep them together.
Your comment re heat gives me a clue to the cause of my problem. I allowed the sauce to boil while I was melting the cheeses. Would this cause the separation?
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Offline linuxboy

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2012, 01:16:18 AM »
Yes it would. Here's how you make a classic 4-cheese sauce:

It's really a variant of the bechamel, moving into the mornay sauce when you add cheese.
- 2 TB flour
- 2 TB butter
- 2 cups milk
- 2 ounces cheese
usually, I will add a little more butter (up to 1 TB) and more flour (up to 2 TB). I also start with 2 TB of garlic or shallots (depending on the dish) fried in the butter before adding flour. Cheese is to taste. And I finish with a dash of white pepper, a little nutmeg, and a teaspoon or so of dijon mustard, all whisked in the end.

melt butter, add flour and mix together. Let cook for a minute. Add the milk and whisk it all together. Bring to a boil. Turn down and let simmer for 10-15 minutes so mellow out the flour. Turn off, add cheese, whisk.

If you don't like the consistency, add a little milk if too thick, or add some beurre manie (softened butter/flour mix) if too thin.

What you did is start with an overly fatty mix of butter and cream. About the only way you could get that recipe to work is if you increased the protein solids but not the fat, such as by reducing down the cream by boiling it or adding whey protein solids. And no butter.

If you were melting the cheese and boiled it, that's drastically excessive heat. Hard to fix as the protein is damaged. You'd need to create a variant of processed cheese at that point.
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Offline Bob

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2012, 04:24:30 AM »
Thanks for the comprehensive reply! Yes, I have made bechamel based cheese sauces before but thought I'd try a different tecnique aiming for a lighter base sauce. But I'll go back to your standard recipe and aim to keep it thinner. Thanks again for for the advice and the recipe. :-)
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Offline BobE102330

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2012, 06:31:01 AM »
Mustard is also an emulsifier. Either a little Dijon as mentioned or dried mustard powder will help keep it together and add a bit of complexity. I also like a pinch of cayenne although that probabably moves you out of the realm of a classic four cheese sauce.

Offline Bob

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2012, 06:50:37 PM »
Thanks for the tip BobE, a pinch of cayenne is always a good idea!

This discussion has sent me back to the textbooks to understand emulsions a bit better. ;)
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Offline kdttocs

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #7 on: April 05, 2013, 12:58:42 PM »
Digging up old post and adding to it.

Sodium Citrate is a water/fat emulsifier. Popular in molecular gastronomy for emulsification and specification. Just dissolve small amount in heated water or milk, blend in ANY grated cheese and you end up with a silky smooth cheese sauce. I'm talking easy-mac, dips, sauces. Texture is silkier than flour/starch methods.

Best place I've found Sodium Citrate is at http://willpowder.com/sodiumCitrate.html

Google - sodium citrate cheese - and you'll find a lot on it.


Offline linuxboy

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #8 on: April 05, 2013, 01:13:21 PM »
Well if you're getting that fancy (I was trying for a solution a typical home cook could implement), then a better approach is to form a thixatropic gel and also include carageenan. Because using an emulsifier helps with fat more than with gellation, and a cheese sauce needs to have both mouthfeel and "stickiness", which requires a gel.
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Offline meyerandray

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #9 on: April 05, 2013, 01:42:53 PM »
I have never put any of these additives in my 4 cheese sauce. The traditional recipe is 4 cheeses that you have in the fridge, usually one of which is a little parmigiano, and a blue (but use what you have-not mozzarella though), some butter and a little milk. Put the milk in a little pot, add the 4 cheeses and butter cut up into little pieces. Low heat, stir. I think your problem was the mozzarella, which tends to retain its elasticity even when it melts.
Adding flour would make the sauce too heavy.


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Offline kdttocs

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #10 on: April 05, 2013, 02:07:08 PM »
The cheddar (and any other cheese the separates when melted) is also the challenge in the OP's recipe. Flour is the easiest and most common way to get the water and fat to mix and will always be the first go-to for most people.

As I posted, I bought Sodium Citrate out of curiosity once and it's now easier than flour for me. Works on mozzarella too.

You use very little - simple cheese sauce
10g (0.3oz) Sodium Citrate
1 cup heated milk
4 cups of grated cheese

Offline meyerandray

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #11 on: April 05, 2013, 02:17:44 PM »
I've never tried with cheddar because they don't sell it in Italy (part of why I make my own, I miss cheddar), but I would suggest not using it (or mozzarella) if it ruins your sauce or forces you to add ingredients. 

Offline kdttocs

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #12 on: April 05, 2013, 02:25:51 PM »
I've never tried with cheddar because they don't sell it in Italy (part of why I make my own, I miss cheddar), but I would suggest not using it (or mozzarella) if it ruins your sauce or forces you to add ingredients. 

Ah yes... Italy. No need for cheddar there. Also no need for complicated recipes!

In the US, cheddar and mozzarella are the most consumed cheeses by far. I read somewhere americans eat over 30lbs of cheese annually and 10 is cheddar and another 10 is mozzarella. We put this stuff in everything, hence the phrase "Make it better with cheddar".
« Last Edit: April 05, 2013, 02:47:56 PM by kdttocs »

Offline Sailor Con Queso

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Re: Four Cheese Sauce problems
« Reply #13 on: April 05, 2013, 04:22:42 PM »
I make a wonderful Amish Cup Cheese that is a traditional spread but is also good as a sauce. Uses any cheese, milk, water, and baking soda. There are lots of recipes online, but this is the one I use.

Amish Cup Cheese

No preservatives, and no chemicals so it should be eaten fresh or used within a week or 2.
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