4.03.2009

Basic White Sauce=Bechamel Sauce--Make Mine Cheese Please

I made Mac and Cheese for dinner last night and I'll be danged if the cheese sauce didn't curdle! Ughhhh This has happened to me twice in the last 4 times I have made a cheese sauce. I did a little research to find out what is going on and I think I figured it out.

So a white sauce or bechamel sauce is basically:

1/4 cup of butter
1/4 of flour
2 cups of milk
salt and pepper to taste

melt the butter, whisk in the flour
cook for 5 minutes
slowly add the milk simmer 20 minutes
and season as needed

For Mac and Cheese add 2 cups of various grated cheeses, blend with cooked pasta and bake for 25 minutes, simple right?
Yep sure until your cheese sauce curdles. But I think I figured out the culprit(s): whole wheat flour, skim milk (I know I know!) and over heating the cheese

1) every recipe seems to call for all purpose flour so I think the fine flour is a key player

2) they also call for milk-whole not skim!! So I plan to work around with this one and see how much skim I can squeeze in without affecting the consistency

3) and finally all recipes call for the sauce to be removed from the heat before adding cheese and
blending it gently

What do you all think? I know my Grandmothers Mac n Cheese was a bit grainy but it wasn't like this at all. Am I on the right trail?? I'll be sure to post results as I go and let you all know what happens. I think it may be a while before I make a cheese sauce again, I only make them every couple months or so.

13 comments:

  1. I've always used 2% milk and been fine. Mine only curdles when I keep heating after adding the cheese. I think that's the big one to avoid. And don't get it too hot to begin with.

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  2. Thanks for doing the research! What a helpful post!! I've had that problem before too. Cook and learn, I guess. :-)

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  3. I've had success making mac and cheese with skim and 2% both. It's the cheese that causes the issues. Definitely take it off the heat. Also, I've found that adding the cheese slowly and not all at once helps out, too. I have a feeling I may be making mac and cheese one day soon. When Little Miss doesn't need to eat :)

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  4. My Mom makes it that way. It is so yummy.

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  5. I just watched Ina Garten make mac & cheese on TV the other night and she seemed to emphasize adding the milk slowly while whisking, and then taking it off the heat before adding the cheese. She even said that if the cheese doesn't melt completely it's ok because it will finish melting in the oven.

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  6. Love it girlie! You are always rocking some yummy food, I'm a few ok a bunch steps below you but I'm hanging in ... LOL

    Thanks so much for the shout out girl you rock as always! I have a very cool new giveaway up ... a Purseket you know you want it! LOL

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  7. thanks for the info! I've been wanting to make mac and cheese for ages. I hope it comes out ok.

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  8. Mine seems to do better when I grate the cheese on the finest setting possible and don't overheat the milk. Good luck!

    I'm not sure if Weight loss weekly is closed or not? Nurit is really the one in charge so I would recommend e-mailing her. Thanks for your interest and for reading! Losing weight is so hard that it is wonderful to have a little support group. :)

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  9. Best white sauce advice I ever got was canned milk!! You can still use skim and the creaminess is always a dream. Try it you won't be disappointed.

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  10. oh lots of good tips here! Thanks ladies, can't wait to try again.

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  11. I make a cheese sauce once a week and haven't had that problem. I use 1% organic milk but have never thought about using my whole wheat flour. For my family of 4, I use 2 TBS of organic flour & 2 TBS of flour. I add in the milk (but don't bother measuring. I keep whisking until it thickens (certainly not 20 minutes) and turn the heat way down when I add the cheese. Maybe your sauce is cooking too long?

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  12. I think the cheese is cooking too long. I make mine the way my mom does and I've never seen either of ours curdle. I pour the water off the noodles, add a little milk, a little butter, and cheese. I stir together and let the sauce thicken. My sauce rarely sits more than 10-15 minutes before being eaten. I think one possibility for breaking the sauce could be the type of cheese used b/c some melt better than others. Maybe try two cheese types. The oil in cheddar makes me think it would break more easily if used alone. American works well but isn't everyone's thing. You could try a mix of hard and soft cheeses though. I hope this helps.

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