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I was trying out some healthier recipes from the New American Plate cookbook, one was a Greek lamb casserole with lots of green beans and potatoes. The lamb was marinated in plain yogurt to which spices were added prior to being added to the pot and baked at 350 for 45 min. The flavor is good, but it is not attractive due to the yogurt separating into a grainy curds and whey.

I now have a lot of leftovers, and am thinking if I can fix the texture of the sauce, the kids would be more enthusiastic about eating it. Is there anything to salvage this huge pot of tasty food? Thanks.

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3 Answers 3

Once the proteins in the yogurt have curdled, you are unlikely to ever get it back to a truly smooth consistency. This is far more likely with low-fat yogurts, which have proportionately more proteins.

This is different from a broken emulsion (such as a hollandaise), where the fats and water in the sauce separate—these can be repaired under some circumstances. Unfortunately, when the cause of the breaking is curdled proteins, once the proteins tighten up, it is essentially irreversible. What you have are little bits of fresh yogurt cheese suspended in the sauce.

Of course, it is still perfectly safe to eat, even if it doesn't look as good as you would like.

In the future, you can mitigate the chance of the sauce breaking by using a full-fat yogurt—you might have to get this from an ethnic market, depending on where you live. Recipes with lower acid are also less likely to curdle, although you haven't mentioned the full recipe you used.

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You can't re-integrate once yogurt is split for the reasons @SAJ14SAJ has said, the only thing you can do is to try and break the curds up as small as possible by using a blender. This will destroy any texture you have in the dish, so it may not be a workable solution for you.

I've had this happen to me many times, especially using low or non-fat yogurt. It's really hard to keep non-fat from splitting, even by using the methods below, so stick with low-fat:

  1. Reduce the heat before adding yogurt. Adding your yogurt while the dish is cool, then heating it back up again slowly will help reduce the chances of yogurt separating
  2. Add it in a spoon at a time. Adding it all at once will almost certainly make it separate

Using method 1 alone takes too long if you're on a time budget, what I do is turn off the heat, then after 30 seconds or so I add the yogurt in a spoon at a time, then put the heat back on. I've found that method is the fastest way to get yogurt into a dish.

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Take the dish off the heat and let cool for 5 min then take about 1/2 - 1 cup of the sauce out and add the yoghurt slowly , mix well then slowly put back in to your dish then slowly bring back to serving temp.

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