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Oct 21, 2012 11:17 AM

White wine and cream sauce with mushrooms turned grainy


I made a mushroom sauce with white wine, broth, half and half, and crimini mushrooms today. I made the exact same sauce last weekend and it was perfect. Today, it is grainy, and the taste is not as "explosive" as it was last weekend.

Any suggestions as to what I did wrong this time?

Also, I just recently acquired a Descoware cast iron enamel fry pan. Does anyone have a favorite use for these? (sauces, veggies, etc?) as it is my first enamel cast iron ever!

Thank you for any help any of you can provide.


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  1. was there any flour or starch in the sauces? or was it perhaps grit from the mushrooms?

    did you use the same white wine last week? was this a fresh bottle? sometimes the acid can cause the cream to split.

    3 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      Hi Hoytoy,

      Thank you for helping me. There is no flour or starch in these sauces. I did use a premade broth this time whereas last time I used broth concentrate in a jar mixed with water.

      As far as grit from mushrooms, I did not notice anything? The wine was the same. I used Franzia Chardonnay last week and the same today.

      1. re: wednesdayaddamsd

        if there was any kind of "thickener" or starch in the broth that might be the culprit for breaking up.

        as for the wine, not too many bottles are fresh after a week. the flavor does fade and it can oxidize.

        1. re: hotoynoodle

          Hi Hoytoy,

          I just checked the broth I used today and there is no starch. It's "Imagine No Chicken Broth". I used the same thing last week only the condensed kind in the jar that you mix with water. The Franzia was a fresh box last weekend, and a fresh box today. lol. Okay, you got me, we drink a box of Franzia a week! lol.

    2. a little too much heat can also break cream sauces.

      8 Replies
      1. re: sunshine842

        I think the heat I used was the same. The mushrooms I used last week were triple washed at the store and therefore "dry" when I put them in the pan. The ones I bought yesterday were some shizzy brand from the corner store and not "washed". I had to "wash" them myself and yes, I know I'm not supposed to wash them, just dry them off but I did rinse them. Could that have made the sauce grainy? Also, I used a wooden spoon. Could that have done it?

        1. re: wednesdayaddamsd

          when you say "grainy", you're meaning that the texture looks grainy, not that it's sandy or gritty, right?

          If that's correct, then it's a function of either the acidity or the temperature (or a little of both) -- natural products like milk and cream and wine vary slightly from batch to batch, and the acidity/heat/combination thereof might be enough to break one batch, but not another.

          The mushrooms and the wooden spoon are unlikely to be the culprit.

          But don't worry too much -- even the best cooks break a sauce once in a while. The good news is that it tastes fine, even if it looks a little funky.

          1. re: sunshine842

            Thanks Sunshine. Yes, it looks grainy but has no actual grains. It doesn't taste as good, either. But that may be a function of the broth not being as condensed as I made it last time. Sigh.....

            1. re: wednesdayaddamsd

              I'm making the assumption that the problem was a broken sauce, not a sauce grainy from mushroom grit.

              Other posters have covered most of what I would say. The most likely culprits are too much heat or increased acidity. But notably, a lot of factors can cause an emulsion to be more fragile than usual. Even something like a different concentration of salt in the sauce or different solutes in the broth you used.

              Broken sauces sometimes don't taste quite as intense or bright or balanced as emulsified sauces simply by nature of being broken - I suspect this is related to fat from the broken sauce coating your tongue more easily and dulling your perception of other flavors.

              As sunshine said, broken sauces happen sometimes even to good cooks. It can be like shanking a ball while playing golf - every once in a while you do everything the same as you always do it and the sauce just breaks mysteriously, seemingly with a will of its own. If it doesn't happen to you often, don't get too worked up about it.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                Thanks Cowboy. I will try again using my old broth concentrate. SO frustrating!

                1. re: cowboyardee

                  (and it will inevitably break when you're expecting company....ho hum)

                  1. re: sunshine842

                    thanks Sunshine. What about scientific assurances darn it?

                    1. re: wednesdayaddamsd

                      When you have ingredients that vary slightly from batch to batch, and a home cooktop that may not be at EXACTLY the same temperature, there is no such thing as scientific accuracy.