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Should I introduce the milk hot or cold when making white (béchamel) sauce?


Searching around I found multiple opposite opnions, like on this answer (see the comments).

Also different advice from famous chefs:

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

As you see from the variety of advise from reputable sources, many combinations of hot/cold roux and liquid will work.

From a convenience point of view, you want at least one of them hot in order to speed the integration. If you started both of them cold, it would probably work but take a while to warm up to melt the butter in the roux, and free the flour particles to integrate and create the sauce@mdash;and it will won't fully thicken until the mixture is at a boil, so this is inefficient. You would probably also have to mash and stir more frequently to prevent local burning.

If you start with both hot, it will also work, although you might have to whisk relatively quickly—but who has both a hot base and a hot roux sitting around? Usually, at least one was prepared in advance, even if only by a few minutes. Batali is recommending this method, but note that in the professional kitchen, where he lives, time is the most constrained resource, so this is his method of choice. His line cooks probably have hot roux ready at all times.

A hot roux is easier to scoop and measure.

A hot liquid will quickly melt and dissolve the roux.

But in any case, if the roux is properly made, the starch granules are surrounded by fat, and so are not going to cause lumping in any case, despite Ramsay's advise. As soon as the mixture is warm enough to melt the butter, the particles are going to move away from one another, and won't be able to clump together before they are hydrated.

So I would not worry about this in the slightest.

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You can also make several weeks worth of roux at one time and keep it in the freezer. Scoop it out like ice cream, and have your whisk ready. Hoorah! –  Jolenealaska Oct 19 '13 at 15:57
    
So basically I should just follow the advice from Marco Pierre, hot rue + cold milk or cold rue + hot milk, and never hot + hot, right? –  talles Oct 20 '13 at 14:17
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You won't go wrong doing that. –  SAJ14SAJ Oct 20 '13 at 21:45
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