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Holding bechamel sauce


JohnRov
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So I have no problem making a nice bechemel, but how do I hold it until I need it? Jaques says to drop butter in and kind of smooth it over the top so a skin doesn't form. I tried this but it didn't work too well. Should I just wait until the last possible second? My mornays get funky if I let them sit too long as well. Any help would be appreciated.

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How long are you holding it for?

A healthy simmer (30+ minutes) is good for engorging/breaking down the starch granules in flour based sauces/gravies, but... the sugars/proteins in milk will produce maillard browning/off flavors when cooked for that long. I simmer bechamel for 10 minutes- no more.

As far as holding it... those same maillard compounds will be produced at holding temps as well, just more slowly. I might hold bechamel at 150 for an hour... maybe an hour and a half if push came to shove, but beyond that, no way. Milk + extended heat = not a happy camper.

If I needed bechamel over a longer period of time than an hour and a half, I'd probably split it up into portions and store them in the walk-in, taking out an hour's worth at a time, bringing it up to temp in the microwave.

As far as the skin that has a tendency to form. A vigorous whisking usually does away with a thin skin. Better yet, if you can whisk it every 15 minutes or so, no skin will form. This intense periodic whisking will not only help prevent a skin, it will create a smoother end product as well. Bechamel loves being whisked.

Mornay is cheese based, which changes the chemistry. The acid of the cheese gives it a propensity for curdling. Extended holding increases that propensity. I probably wouldn't hold mornay for that long, but if I had no other choice, I'd seek out ingredients to enhance it's stability.

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How long are you holding it for?

A healthy simmer (30+ minutes) is good for engorging/breaking down the starch granules in flour based sauces/gravies, but... the sugars/proteins in milk will produce maillard browning/off flavors when cooked for that long.  I simmer bechamel for 10 minutes- no more.

As far as holding it... those same maillard compounds will be produced at holding temps as well, just more slowly.  I might hold bechamel at 150 for an hour... maybe an hour and a half if push came to shove, but beyond that, no way. Milk + extended heat = not a happy camper.

If I needed bechamel over a longer period of time than an hour and a half, I'd probably split it up into portions and store them in the walk-in, taking out an hour's worth at a time, bringing it up to temp in the microwave.

As far as the skin that has a tendency to form. A vigorous whisking usually  does away with a thin skin.  Better yet, if you can whisk it every 15 minutes or so, no skin will form.  This intense periodic whisking will not only help prevent a skin, it will create a smoother end product as well. Bechamel loves being whisked.

Mornay is cheese based, which changes the chemistry.  The acid of the cheese gives it a propensity for curdling. Extended holding increases that propensity.  I probably wouldn't hold mornay for that long, but if I had no other choice, I'd seek out ingredients to enhance it's stability.

Usually I hold it for between 10 minutes to sometimes a little over a half an hour if I am making lasagne because I make my pasta last and the sauce sits while I do that. I guess I could make the pasta and hold it in ice water but I've never tried that. I make the pasta and assemble as I go.

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