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Old 06-01-2008, 01:00 PM   #1
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Need help with cream sauce!

So I happen to be a big fan of rich cream sauces for pasta. I've been experimenting for the last few weeks, and while I can make an okay sauce it just never gets as rich and as thick as what I have at restaurants. Can anyone please take a look at what I generally do and give me some suggestions? I'd prefer to avoid adding cheese to it because I try not to eat cheese.

I usually start by cooking chopped shallots in EVOO until they start to soften. I then use my garlic press on a couple of cloves of garlic and add that to the mix. After that cooks a little (with some sea salt and black pepper), I add a splash of white wine and let the alcohol cook out. Then I add whipping cream. I sometimes put a little corn starch in the mix to try to thicken it up some, but it doesn't seem to help very much. And of course I often add other ingredients for flavor, like chopped capers or dried tarragon.

In the end, it tastes so-so but is definitely not restaurant-quality. It is too soupy and not rich enough. Any suggestions are appreciated!!

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Old 06-01-2008, 02:09 PM   #2
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Welcome to DC, Jeremy.

To thicken a cream sauce, you have to simmer it to reduce the cream.

Also, after adding the wine, you can cook that down so there is parctically no liquid left before adding the cream.
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Old 06-01-2008, 02:16 PM   #3
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You might try thickening with flour. Right before you start adding the cream, take about a tablespoon or two of flour and add to the shallots. Stir a couple of minutes and start whisking in the cream a little at a time. For more information on this, look up bechamel sauce on the web and you'll see how to make the basic sauce and you can use this as the basis for your shallot and garlic sauce. Bechamel is known as a "mother" sauce since many sauces are based on its basic type, i.e. based on a roux with the addition of cream.
Hope this helps,
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Old 06-01-2008, 02:23 PM   #4
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Welcome to DC, Jeremy!

If you reduce the wine to a syrup, and then reduce your cream, you should be able to make a dynamite cream sauce without the assistance of any thickeners. Be patient, and turn the heat down once you've added the cream so it doesn't scorch, and stir frequently.

Adding some of your grated cheese to the sauce will help thicken it, also.
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Old 06-01-2008, 02:36 PM   #5
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Also, most restaurants use heavy whipping cream which has a higher fat content and reduces to a thicker consistency much faster than standard whipping cream. However, just slowly reduce the cream as others have said and you should get a thicker sauce. I wouldn't recommend adding a roux or any other flour based thickener as it will alter the flavor of the sauce.
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Old 06-02-2008, 11:56 AM   #6
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You could also consider using butter instead of oil. IMO it will impart a "richer" taste.
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Old 06-02-2008, 12:25 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by ironchef View Post
Also, most restaurants use heavy whipping cream which has a higher fat content and reduces to a thicker consistency much faster than standard whipping cream. However, just slowly reduce the cream as others have said and you should get a thicker sauce. I wouldn't recommend adding a roux or any other flour based thickener as it will alter the flavor of the sauce.
Yes, no need to add anything other than the heavy cream itself.

You can also add the pasta to the reducing sauce so they can get to know one another before reaching your plate.
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Old 06-02-2008, 12:51 PM   #8
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For me, it depends on what kind of sauce I'm making. Some sauces require a roux made fom equal amounts of flour and fat, heated until the flour is bubbling. Then salt and cream are added until the desired consistancy is reached. you have to add the liquid slowly while whisking vigorously to ensure a smooth consistancy. Also, do not let the sauce boil as the protiens will tend to coagulate and "break" the sauce, especially if you are adding cheese or dairy products.

If you want a beautiful Alfredo or Mornay sauce, heat the cream and allow it to thicken by evaporation to the desired consistancy before adding the cheese. Also, again, do not let the sauce boil, even a little.

For creamy puddings and custards, the same holds true. For rich custard, use only milk, cream, and egg yolks. Beat the yolks until smooth and creamy, and add the sugar and flavorings to them. Pour a bit of the hot liquid into the yolks, stirring rapidly with a whisk. Then add the tempered yolk to the remaining liquid according to your recipe, stirring vigorously with a whisk until it thikens properly. Again, do not let it boil.

And yes, butter adds a rich flavor. After all, it is pure milk fat and a bit of salt. It's the cream with all of the water removed.

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Old 06-02-2008, 08:08 PM   #9
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And yes, butter adds a rich flavor. After all, it is pure milk fat and a bit of salt. It's the cream with all of the water removed.

Seeeeeeya; Goodweed of the North
Hi Goodweed,
Butter contains water - 15-18% as you will realise if you try to clarify some.
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Old 06-02-2008, 09:11 PM   #10
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Welcome to DC, Jeremy!

If you reduce the wine to a syrup, and then reduce your cream, you should be able to make a dynamite cream sauce without the assistance of any thickeners. Be patient, and turn the heat down once you've added the cream so it doesn't scorch, and stir frequently.

Adding some of your grated cheese to the sauce will help thicken it, also.
How do you go about reducing wine to a syrup?
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