Monday, October 6, 2008

Cream of Cop Out

I'm totally convinced that if we were able to track what happens to cans of Campbell's Cream of Mushroom soup when they leave the store, that fewer than 10% are ever actually made into soup.

Green bean caserole. Chicken bake. Chicken with creamy rice....this is the destiny for all those've got a recipe, don't deny it. Every one of you reading this has there's a can of Cream of Something in your pantry right now.

And deep down you know that no good can come from opening a can of the stuff, but you do it anyway.

It's time to stop. It's time for me to open a can of Cream of Intervention on you ass.

Very slowly, keep your hands where I can see them and drop the can opener.

There are 2 ways to go about making "Cream of" soups; adding cream to a regular soup works pretty well if you like a thinner texture. Here's a decent Cream of Asparagus soup recipe that uses this technique.

If you're going for something a little more hearty, like the Campbell's cans, then a bechamel sauce is what you need.

Melt a hunk of butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and add a little flour. Keep it moving with a wire whisk. This part take a little practice; getting the butter to flour ratio right. I figure you can always add more flour, but taking it away isn't so easy. You're going for a thick sauce texture. It will be a pale yellow at first. What you've made right there is called a roux. (Roo)

Roux is the foundation for a lot of great food, so you should absolutely know how to do this. It is a thickener, but also a flavoring; a foundation. You're halfway to gumbo and etoufee already!

When you first add the flour to the butter and begin whisking, your roux is going to taste very floury and starchy. You need to cook that flavor out. As it cooks, the roux will take on a darker tone. As it darkens, the flavors get deeper and nuttier, but the thickening power is reduced.

For the sauce we're making, a blond roux is fine; but you should experiment; take a roux to peanut better color. See how dark you can get a roux before it burns. It's good to know these things, get a feel for them and practice is cheap.

Back to our sauce. We've got a blond roux, just cooked enough to have cooked out the flour flavor. Meawhile, cook up a few cups of milk. You want it almost boiling. If you put cold milk in a hot roux very bad things happen, and there's no recovery. When the milk is hot, very slowly whisk it in with your roux. Congratulations - it's a bechamel sauce!

Now lets go back a few steps. What would happen if we sauteed some chopped mushrooms in butter, and then added flour to that, and made a roux out of it, then added the hot milk and some heavy cream? What would we have then?

You'd have cream of mushroom soup. Use that in your green bean casserole and taste the difference. You may never buy a can of Cream of Anything again.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Are you in favor of irradating food?