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Sodium Citrate in a cheese soubise?


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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
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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.

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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!

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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, 

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~ Shai N.

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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.

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