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Dave the Cook

The Melty Cheese Calculator: what have you made?

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We might -- or might not -- have made an announcement when we first posted the Melty Cheese Calculator. You can find it here, but in case you don't want to dig up this post every time you need it, we've added a link in the "Browse" tab at the top of the page.

 

Anyway, a friend was asking what kind of cheese or cheeses one might use in it, as the technique pretty much allows you to treat almost any (I haven't had any failures yet) cheese as if was Velveeta or Cheez Whiz. Modernist Cuisine and the subsequent Modernist Cuisine at Home offer up a few possibilities, but I'm sure we can top those. Here are some of the combinations/applications I've used:

 

  • Aged provolone and Tillamook extra sharp cheddar -- sauce for cheesesteaks
  • Gruyere/various aged cheddars for mac and cheese 
  • Jalapeño jack and manchego for a broccoli casserole
  • Just last weekend: Baby Swiss and TJ's Unexpected Cheddar for mac and cheese
  • Aged gouda, unaged gouda and Monterey Jack -- chilled,  cubed, breaded and deep fried to make "croutons" Here's a photo.

 

I'm sure I'm not the only one who's had tasty fun with this technique. What have you made? Share!

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Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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Thanks for this reboot.   FWIW, I have found that in lieu of sodium citrate (should you jut not want another container of something on your shelf), a tiny amount of vinegar will allow your cheese to relax.     Like a teaspoon in a cup of cheese and liquid.     There is no noticeable flavor added by this.    Anyway, works for with recalcitrant cheeses.  

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eGullet member #80.

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So the same ratio for any cheese? Parm is the same as cheddar?

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Are you talking to me?    This is "fly by the seat" cooking.    I use a very small amount, half to a teaspoon, for strong cheddars.    Yes, different cheeses, even ages of same cheese, may respond with different amounts of vinegar.   But considering how little vinegar you are using, it shouldn't be a substantial difference.    

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@Dave the Cook The type of cheese doesn’t matter?  Same ratios for cheddar as for parm?

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@gfweb: I've never tried it with straight parm, though aged gouda (and Cabot Clothbouond Cheddar) come close to the same sort of dry graininess (a description that doesn't capture the flavor of the cheese, but only the texture), and they've done fine. I've usually buffered intense cheeses in combination with milder specimens, perhaps wanting to temper the strong flavor of well-aged cheeses for my guests -- or perhaps out of fear of a failed emulsion. But I'm pretty sure someone around here has combined a pair of dry cheeses to good effect -- @Chris Hennes, maybe? If not, I'm willing to experiment and let you know.

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Dave Scantland
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dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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14 hours ago, Dave the Cook said:

@gfweb: I've never tried it with straight parm, though aged gouda (and Cabot Clothbouond Cheddar) come close to the same sort of dry graininess (a description that doesn't capture the flavor of the cheese, but only the texture), and they've done fine. I've usually buffered intense cheeses in combination with milder specimens, perhaps wanting to temper the strong flavor of well-aged cheeses for my guests -- or perhaps out of fear of a failed emulsion. But I'm pretty sure someone around here has combined a pair of dry cheeses to good effect -- @Chris Hennes, maybe? If not, I'm willing to experiment and let you know.

I always use the same ratio and have never had it fail: no dependence on the type of cheese involved. This may mean that the amount of sodium citrate is higher than necessary for some cheeses, however.

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Chris Hennes
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chennes@egullet.org

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I made a lasagne with a brie bechamel that was really, really good once upon a time.  Would making this cheese sauce with brie, on the medium thin side, essentially sub out for a bechamel?  Would it break on the rebaking?  

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@lemniscate I've never tried to make a sauce with brie, but it's clear that other semi-soft cheeses work fine with this technique. I really doubt it would break -- I've baked many a mac and cheese without a hint of breakage.

 

So, I'm sure it would work. The thing I think you need to think about is if you want more brie flavor in your lasagna (which you'd get by removing the roux and possibly milk from your bechamel), or if making a Melty Cheese is just fixing something that isn't really broken.

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Dave Scantland
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eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I did it.  I used the calculator.   I had several bits of cheeses on the edge of usage or toss.  Some WSU Cougar Gold, some WSU Viking, Costco Jarlsberg, Kerrygold cheddar, an English aged cheese I can't remember the name.  All grated up was 315 g.  That came to 12.6 g of sodium citrate.  I used a light broth for the liquid.   Used an immersion blender as I added the cheese slowly.

 

Perfection.

 

I also at the end added the final chopped bits of an Edwards Country Ham.

 

Ended up with 3/4 L of sauce.

IMG_8152.jpg

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Where have you been all my life Melty Cheese Calculator???!!!!

 

I'm afraid my first try will be boring to all of you, but for me it was like magic.  

 

I bought some of this 

IMG_6603.JPG.bc07d3b8a2fb3ac6c534ca8e1b160778.JPG

And used just regular sharp cheddar (grocery store brand)

 

Holy crap.  

 

Amazing.

 

IMG_6599.jpg.c3fcd48a491d279d4889521c49ad119c.jpg

I will now be eating cheese sauce on everything.  Pancakes.....bananas.....I don't care, I'm putting cheese sauce on it.

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On 6/24/2019 at 7:49 AM, lemniscate said:

I made a lasagne with a brie bechamel that was really, really good once upon a time.  Would making this cheese sauce with brie, on the medium thin side, essentially sub out for a bechamel?  Would it break on the rebaking?  

YES, you can use cheese sauce as a sub for béchamel, word of warning though it will be far more intensely cheese flavoured and the top will brown much differently to a béchamel sauce it tends to brown as one whole sheet which is exactly like processed cheese. 

 

For people who like cheese though it makes an amazing lasagna and the next day you can cut the cleanest, nicest and most attractive lasagna portions. 

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Oooh myyyy!! 

Just received my sodium citrate (thanks to UPS it had a nice weekend in Santa Maria instead of arriving last Friday).

Just whipped up a batch using 1/2 pound of block mozzarella that’s been languishing in the fridge and 1/2 pound grocery store sharp cheddar, used 1/2 milk 1/2 water for the liquid. @Shelby We’re on the same track, cheese sauce on everything! 

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Round two.  425g kerrygold + jarlsberg;  sour beer as liquid and 17g of sodium citrate.     At the end of the melting, I put 2 tblsp of fresh cracked black pepper in   Nice!  Creamy, tangy, peppery.

 

Modernist Melty Cheese truly is one of the most fun things I have done in the kitchen with almost bulletproof results.

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Can I make nacho cheese with this calculator, do you think?

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@Shelby, I don't suppose I've ever made nachos, and it's been a gazillion years since I ate some. What texture should I choose: firm, cheese sauce (mac & cheese) or thin?

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2 minutes ago, TdeV said:

@Shelby, I don't suppose I've ever made nachos, and it's been a gazillion years since I ate some. What texture should I choose: firm, cheese sauce (mac & cheese) or thin?

I would do "thick and flowing when warm".....I think the mac and cheese sauce would be a bit too thin.

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49 minutes ago, TdeV said:

@Shelby, I don't suppose I've ever made nachos, and it's been a gazillion years since I ate some. What texture should I choose: firm, cheese sauce (mac & cheese) or thin?


There's a recipe for a nacho cheese sauce on the chefsteps site that's equivalent to the mac and cheese sauce in proportions. It just adds pickled jalapenos and a little salt to the cheese/liquid/sodium citrate combo. They also add a little sodium hexametaphosphate as an additional melting salt but that's not a necessity.

Edit: I'm going to give it  a try soon, maybe even for this weekend's football games, but I'm going to use pickled serranos instead of jalapenos. 


Edited by Tri2Cook (log)
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It's kinda like wrestling a gorilla... you don't stop when you're tired, you stop when the gorilla is tired.

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Chefsteps cooks the sauce for 25 minutes at 75C (167F). The cheese vessels in the photos in this thread don't look like saucepans. Is that correct?

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