Egg Yolk And Cream Liaison

In classical cooking, a liaison is a mixture of egg yolks and cream, used to enrich and lightly thicken a sauce or other liquid. Egg yolks have the power to thicken a sauce slightly due to the coagulation of egg proteins when heated.

Caution must be used when thickening with egg yolks because of the danger of curdling.This happens when the proteins coagulate too much and separate from the liquid.

Pure egg yolks coagulate at about 140°F to 158°F (60°C to 70°C). For this reason, they are beaten with heavy cream before use.This raises their curdling temperature to 180°F - 185°F (82°C - 85°C). (Note that this is still well below the boiling point.) The heavy cream also adds thickness and flavor to the sauce.

Egg yolks have only slight thickening power. The liaison is used primarily to give richness of flavor and smoothness of texture to a sauce and only secondarily to give a slight thickening. Also, because of the instability of the egg yolks,it is used only as a finishing technique. Incorporating a liaison is illustrated in Figure 8.6.

Figure 8.6

Adding a liaison to a sauce.

Pr rocedure for Using a Liaison

Figure 8.6

Adding a liaison to a sauce.

(a) Slowly stir a little of the hot sauce (chicken velouté, in this picture) into the mixture of cream and egg yolks to warm it and dilute it.

(b) Stir the tempered liaison back into the remaining sauce.

1. Beat together the egg yolks and cream in a stainless-steel bowl. Normal proportions are 2 to 3 parts cream to 1 part egg yolks.

2. Very slowly add a little of the hot liquid to the liaison, beating constantly. This is known as tempering.

3. Off the heat, add the warmed, diluted liaison to the rest of the sauce, stirring well as you pour it in.

4. Return the sauce to low heat to warm it gently, but do not heat it higher than 180°F (82°C) or it will curdle. In no circumstances should it boil.

5. Hold for service above 140°F (69°C) for sanitation reasons, but lower than 180°F (82°C).

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