What the Roux?! Add More Pumpkin!

I made Croque Monsieur for dinner tonight, courtesy of Miss Ina’s recipe. God, I love her. Heaven forbid I ever meet her – I have no doubt I’ll make a total ass of myself.

But I digress.

The recipe, from her Barefoot in Paris book, calls for a roux: you melt butter in a saucepan, add flour, stir it around until it becomes a sticky paste, then vigorously whisk it while adding hot milk. Once it’s all thick, you add Gruyère, parmesan, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. However, tonight’s sauce was so watery that it hardly seemed that I added flour at all, let alone a cup’s worth of cheese.

The kicker is that I’ve made this recipe about a half-dozen times and every time has turned out different. I’ve had lusciously thick creamy sauces…and I’ve encountered the water-sauce before as well.

So my question is: what is the trick here?! Is it the heat I’m using? Is it my pan? Is it the type of butter and milk? I looked up “roux” in my Food Lover’s Companion*, but it was no help, other than to inform me that I made a white roux versus a blond roux. And that there's a whole separate roux you make with lard. Have any of you tried to find lard in a store?! Not an easy feat, let me tell you. At least it wasn't when I lived in Jersey. Again, I digress.

So what did I do? What any novice cook would do, of course. I ordered my husband to add another tablespoon of flour! And any of you experienced cooks out there will probably guess what happened. The flour globbed all up and looked like bits of congealed cream floating in my sauce. The good news is that once the whole saucepan was poured on top of the sandwiches and stuck under the broiler the bits of flour disappeared. It was a decadent and delicious dinner.

In other food-related adventures, I’m giving up my search for Sortilège maple liqueur. Why have I been looking for it, you ask? Because I love all things pumpkin and I’ve been sitting on a recipe for a Pumpkintini. I’ve never made it, but I’m convinced this is my year. I got it from Rachael Ray’s mag. But it uses this maple liqueur, which I had never even heard of until this recipe came on my radar. I can't find it anywhere. I have a friend of mine who runs the bar at a darling restaurant in Brooklyn Heights, and he swears that he has Sortilège on his shelf right now...but there's no way I'm going all the way to Brooklyn Heights for it. Even if it is to make what I have built up in my mind to be the end-all-be-all of drinks. So I'm giving up...for now. But like all true obsessions, I'm only taking a break. The search will be on again in another week or so.

*I linked to the 2007 edition, but I am using the 2001 edition. Does the 2007 have updated info on roux creation?


Jenn said...

My boyfriend has met Ina several times and her public persona seems genuine (not necessarily the case with some of the other celebs he's met). He still laments the closing of the Barefoot Contessa.

Unknown said...

A friend of mine has met Ina and said the same thing: she is very genuine and sweet. When we moved out to the East Coast, one of the first places I wanted to go was Barefoot Contessa. Imagine my huge disappointment when I found out it closed!