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Béchamel vs. rice/bean sauce base


Pandora Harper
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I have a personal dish that (hangs head in shame) originally used Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup.

Once I learned how to make my own chicken stock, I tried trying using a Béchamel sauce instead of that pre-fab soup mix. While the texture of my final dish is just what I need, the Béchamel sauce seems to absorb the other flavors I use in the dish. Flavors include fresh green onions, curry powder and fresh lemon juice. After several uses of Béchamel in my dish, I've tried adding: more lemon juice, more curry powder etc., ending up with a dish that is nowhere near the original.

I’ve read someplace that a rice or white bean base can also create a low-fat white sauce, and I am wondering if either of these alternatives would allow the flavors in my dish to stand out the way they normally do. My original dish is so loved that it rarely lasts, and some friends call it my Chicken Curry Crack recipe, because it so addicting.

Any thoughts on the rice/bean alternative? Not to mention Béchamel is not a low-fat sauce, and I’m working on cutting down the amount of fat in my recipes.

-Pandora

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I don't know a ton about the rice-or-bean as thickener technique, but Julia Child covers rice pretty well in a couple of her works. One other thing you could try is using velouté instead béchamel; stock will bring out your chicken flavors, whereas the cream in the béchamel is going to cover them up.

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I'm confused--you don't use bechemel because it ends up tasting like the other ingredients in the dish? Or do you mean that it "absorbs" the flavor and you can't taste the green onion, curry, etc because the bechemel is masking them?

Anyways, first thing I would say is that if you love the original recipe why change it? Who cares if it uses cambells soup?

Next, if you are intent upon trying different things to try and improve the flavor, I have a few suggestions.

You could try making what is classically called a veloute sauce, in this case it would be a nicely fortified chicken broth/stock that you thicken with a roux. If you can make a bechemel you can make a veloute--just substitute chicken stock for the milk. This might give you a closer taste to the cream of chicken soup, while still improving the overall mouthfeel and taste from the original.

I don't know the original recipe, but you also might try:

As you simmer the veloute to cook out the flour, you might try fortifying it with additional vegetables and herbs. This may include things like onions, carrots, thyme, basil, whatever, but it may help "deepen" the flavor of the dish.

Toasting the curry briefly before adding to the recipe, and adding it near the beginning of the cooking/simmering so that the curry has enough time to bloom deeply flavor the dish. Fresh lemon juice and scallions near the end to preserve freshness.

Seriously maybe try the veloute--it seems you are subbing milk/cream for chicken and that might be the missing ingredient to your dish.

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Remember that campells soup is a concentrate and uses huge amounts of salt to get the flavor. I think you could approach the same thing using highly reduced home made chicken stock while keeping the salt level more reasoable.

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