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Several years ago I knew a place where they served ragout fin au gratin in small bowls with a very thin cheese skin.

I'd like to create these myself. I tried several approaches, mostly by putting finely grinded Parmesan into milk or cream, sometimes combined with egg, (with nice results some times), but the resulting cheese skin is not as desired. The problem I'm having is that either the mixture is too runny and flows to the rim of the bowl or it is too thick and will result in a (tasty) skin which is, too thick however. Any ideas what I could try? Different kind of cheese maybe? Try again until I find the correct mixture?

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If you had these at a restaurant is there a chance they used a professional grade broiler to finish the dish? Perhaps the higher heat allowed for a shorter cooking time and thinner skin. –  AaronN Dec 27 '11 at 18:28
    
@AaronN that might well be true, in which case I'd be searching in vain :-| –  Thomas Dec 30 '11 at 14:59
    
If that was the case you could try a blow torch similar to how a creme brulee is finished. It might be tricky not to burn the top though. –  AaronN Jan 3 '12 at 17:23
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4 Answers

up vote 1 down vote accepted

I would think all of the above will give tasty results, the point about the use of a professional broiler or salamander is possibly the real clue for cheese to crisp it needs heat, the rest of the dish probably does not.

There are a few tricks to try,

1 use any of the above mixes but get yourself a blow lamp from the DIY store or garage, not a silly little overly priced armature cook shop one, and use it to flame the tops just before serving(warn guests of the temperature before they burn their mouths) Effectively same as a good crème brulee.

2 make parmigiana disks grate parmigiana very finely on to a silicon tray or baking sheet oven roast until crispy or use grill if you have a hot broiler. let them cool on a rack place them on top at the end of the cooking - Combine with the blow lamp to colour and heat as a professional touch.

3 the lazy way add a dash of butter to the tops during the baking to colour the cheese mixture.

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I think this can be done very easy:
- you can put parmesan into your sauce but this won't color in the oven.
- just before placing it in the oven, add a good layer of grated cheese (young cheese)
- when the dish is almost ready, place it for max 1 minute under the grill in the oven. (until it colors).
NOTE, this will go very fast so keep an eye on it.

Enjoy:)

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Thanks, but the problem is not the color but rather the thickness of the cheese coating. –  Thomas Jan 12 '12 at 17:52
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I never tried it but I would go about this using another cheese, like provolone, and instead of grating I would use fine flakes.

An a max oven + grill.

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I make mine with a bechamel sauce and just use cheddar. It is slightly thick but not too thick. Also cook in a hot oven 400 degrees, this gets a nice thin skin on it every time! Good luck!

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