Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Sodium Citrate in a cheese soubise?


Recommended Posts

I am planning on making Michael Ruhlman's macaroni and cheese this weekend for a party. In the recipe, you make a soubise sauce with flour, butter, milk, and carmelized onions. You hand blend these all together (with some spices), and then add the grated cheese to the hot liquid to melt. Then you can mix in with the cooked pasta and keep overnight in the fridge.


Then I remembered I have sodium citrate in the pantry. 


We like this recipe, but find that it's not as "cheesy" or "creamy" as we'd like it to be sometimes, especially after cooking. Would adding a dash of sodium citrate to the cheese/soubise mixture help keep it that classic cheesy texture? Even if it sat overnight in the fridge and was then baked? As I am making this along with smoking a couple pork butts for my girlfriend's co-workers, I really don't want to have a food disaster! 


Thanks all,



Edited by Smithy
Added tag (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A pound of cheese for 12 ounces pasta and still not "cheesy" enough?  Yikes!  Anyhoo, sodium citrate is only going to help if you're having a problem with the sauce breaking or being gritty.  What you might do instead is a modernist M&C incorporating the flavors from Ruhlman's recipe but losing the bechamel.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

We're planning to use a mixture of extra sharp cheddar, gruyere, and comte. 


There is Parmesan that is littered on the top. 


I am liking the idea of doing a MC-like citrate substitution. Once made and refrigerated, will it bake well? Hoping to keep that gooey Velveeta-like texture. 


Thanks all!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm not sure I fully understood you. Are you saying that if you let it sit overnight then it's not as creamy-gooey as if you cooked straight away? Or is it not creamy enough at all?

I'm not sure that sodium citrate will help much. What I assume, as that the pasta soaks too much of the moisture from the cheese sauce, making it feel fatty/buttery instead of creamy, is this what you are describing? If so, then you can try to either add more liquid to your sauce, or alternatively, keep it separated, heat it when ready, then combine with the pasta and place under a broiler to brown, 

  • Like 1

~ Shai N.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think that if I was doing a recipe for the first time - for people other than those I normally experiment on - I would stick to the recipe.  That said, Mac n' cheese is usually not a high risk proposition.


But I agree with pbear, you should do one or the other.  The roux and sodium citrate are redundant and may well work at cross purposes.  I think if you're looking for Velveeta.-texture, the sodium citrate version is what you will want.


But I'll offer a warning.  Ruhlman's recipe seems to be pretty flavor-intensive.  At the same time, the sodium citrate cheese sauce tends to pass on a lot more of the other flavors in a sort of cleaner way.  For instance I have had at various times things (e.g. soups, sauces and the like) called 'beer-cheese' on the menu.  It always tasted like a thin cheese sauce with not much beer taste.  But when I did a cheese sauce using just (cheap) beer, cheese and sodium citrate, the result screamed BEER!.


I think refrigerating will be fine.  I'd just save the final topping for just before the oven and heat gently under foil.  My gut feeling is to do it covered it at 350 and then put the spurs to it and let it finish at recommended 425 for 15 minutes or until looking good.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


  • Similar Content

    • By Anonymous Modernist 16589
      I'm looking to buy some new pots and pans and would like to tap into your knowledege and experiance with them. Which pans tend to yield the best and most consistant results. Same for pots. Any and all recommendations would be greatly appriciated, thank you in advance.
      Herman 8D
    • By Doodad
      Has anybody tried making a dark roux in a pressure cooker? Can this be done without scortching do you think? I have made roux in the oven before and started wondering about this topic.
    • By kostbill
      I really want to improve the flavor of my chicken breast so I want to try to inject brine with fat and flavors.
      I would like to try brining with some hydrocolloids. The one example I found is this: https://torontofoodlab.com/2013/08/20/meat-tenderizing-with-a-carrageenan-brine/.
      However I cannot apply that to my chicken breast because I am cooking it sous vide, so the chicken will not reach the temperature needed for the carrageenan to gel.
      I am thinking of using Methyl cellulose, first disperse in hot water, then leave it for 24 hours in the fridge, then add salt, fat and flavors and inject it.
      I am afraid that until it reaches the 50C or 60C that the Methyl cellulose needs in order to gel, the liquid will escape.
      Any ideas?
    • By Anonymous Modernist 760
      Thanks for putting up this forum 🙂
      I would like to bake using a combination of sous vide and a conventional oven. Would it be possible to put the dough in a vacuum bag cook it sous vide at 37C for the dough to raise optimal and then put it in a conventional oven?
    • By PedroG
      Utilization of meat leftovers from sous-vide cooking
      Sometimes when you buy a nice cut of meat, your eyes are bigger than your and your beloved's stomach. So what to do with the leftovers?
      In Tyrolia (Austria) they make a "Gröstl", in Solothurn (Switzerland) they make a "Gnusch", in the Seftigenamt (a region in the Swiss canton Berne) they make a "Gmüder", and we (Pedro and SWAMBO) make a varying concoct using ideas from all of the three. We call it "Gröstl", but it is not necessarily a typical Tyrolean Gröstl, and it is different each time, and we usually do not top it with a fried egg as they do in Austria.

      All your meat leftovers
      Onion (compulsory)
      Any hard vegetable (we prefer celery stalks, or zucchini)
      Any salad (iceberg lettuce or endive/chicory or any other salad leaves, may contain carrot julienne)
      Fried potatoes, or alternatively sweetcorn kernels
      Sherry or wine or bouillon or the gravy you preserved from your last LTLT.cooked meat for simmering (I usually prefer Sherry)
      Eventually some cream (or crème fraîche)
      Salt, pepper, parsley, caraway seeds (typical for Tyrolean Gröstl), paprika, condiment (in Switzerland we use "Aromat" by Knorr, which contains sodium chloride, sodium glutamate, lactose, starch, yeast extract, vegetable fats, onions, spices, E552)'
      vegetable oil (I prefer olive oil)

      Mise en place

      cut your meat in small cubes or slices
      cut the onion(s) not too fine (place the first cut below your tongue to avoid tearing during cutting)
      cut the vegetables about 3-4 mm thick
      cut the salads to pieces smaller than 4 cm, distribute on the cutting board and season deliberately
      cut the potatoes to 1 cm cubes
      place 3 heavy skillets with ample oil on the stove


      in skillet 1, stir-fry the onions, add the hard vegetables still stir-frying, add salad, add sufficient liquid (Sherry or wine or bouillon or gravy) for simmering under a cover until soft. If desired, reduce heat and add some cream at the end.
      in skillet 2, stir-fry the potatoes until soft (in case of sweetcorn kernels, add to skillet 1 after stir-frying and use skillet 2 for skillet 3)
      in skillet 3, as soon as the vegetables and the potatoes are soft, sear the meat in just smoking oil for 30-60 seconds, then add to skillet 1

      You may mix the potatoes with the vegetables and meat to make a rather typical Gröstl, or serve the fried potatoes separately; we prefer the latter, as the potatoes stay more crunchy.
      Do not forget to serve a glass of good dry red wine!
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...