How To make the perfect quenelle

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Traditionally a quenelle was prepared from either fish or chicken mixed with flour, fat, egg whites and seasoning to form a quenelle and was served as a starter. They were difficult to make and due to the huge fat content not very popular. However, the arrival of the food processor shot the quenelle back into the culinary lime light and nowadays everybody can make them with a little effort. A well formed and neat quenelle add a dash of sophistication to a plate and your friends and fellow diners will always admire you if you have made them perfectly. For me it is also a hint that my host have made an effort with the food. I find a sundried tomato pesto quenelle on a bed of pasta with parmesan shavings much more appealing and attractive than all mixed together before it reach the table.

A quenelle can be just about anything so long as it retains that classic three sided oval shape. I have seen quenelled butters, jams, ice creams, sorbets, soft cheeses, ganache, mousse of every kind and mashed vegetables and pâtés. They can add a little culinary polish and the Wow-factor to your plates. In the photograph above I used three of my Taste Café products to make a hummus, sundried tomato pesto and duck liver pâté quenelle of each. Of the three the hummus was the most difficult as the consistency was a bit too runny, the pesto quenelle was the easiest to make and the pâté quenelle was fairly easy, but just too thick to easily slip from one spoon to the next. When this happens wet your spoons and it will assist in making the quenelle.

You name it, and as long as whatever you want to quenelle is about the consistency of soft cream cheese or cottage cheese, you can form it into a quenelle.

Traditionally, quenelles have been made using two spoons, so you end up with a kind of three-sided oval scoop. To create a quenelle, you’ll need two spoons of the same size. The size of the spoon will determine the size of your quenelle. Two teaspoons will deliver a small quenelle and two dessert spoons will deliver a large quenelle. I do not recommend larger spoons than dessert as it becomes too sloppy and you may over dress the plate with whatever you have quenelled.


Step 1: With a spoon in each hand, scoop a generous amount of mousse or whatever you use into one spoon. Gently press the bowl of the second spoon against the mousse, scooping the contents from the first spoon into the second. Don’t over fill your spoon it will add more difficulty in forming your quenelle.

Step 2: Transfer the mousse back to the first spoon in the same manner. This begins to create a smooth, rounded surface where the mousse molded to the spoon. Allow excess to fall back into your bowl.

Step 3: Keep scooping back and forth until you have a nice, smooth oval shape. With some products like ice creams, mousses and creams you’ll need to work fast as the heat in your kitchen will start to influence the shape of your quenelle.

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10 thoughts on “How To make the perfect quenelle

    bellacorea said:
    July 9, 2012 at 09:27

    wow! I was so curious how to make that oval shape….ha! Here we go! Thank you for this tip!

      Taste Café Pretoria responded:
      July 9, 2012 at 09:29

      I takes a few mishaps, but once you have it (the action is in the wrist) you’ll never look back. Enjoy and have fun making them!

      Regards,

      Willie

    frugalfeeding said:
    May 3, 2012 at 21:58

    Thanks for this – mine are pretty good, but I think this’ll improve them!

      Taste Café Pretoria responded:
      May 4, 2012 at 08:48

      Hi,

      Practise makes perfect and I am glad that the hints will help you in making them better. Once mastered you’ll always enjoy making them and the happiness on the faces of your guests is priceless.

    sarahsfoodieblog said:
    May 3, 2012 at 21:50

    Completely agree…this technique makes a lot of difference to the presentation of your plate

      Taste Café Pretoria responded:
      May 4, 2012 at 08:46

      Hi Sarah,
      Apart from making a difference in presentation, I always find a plate that was prepared with such care also more enjoyable, for me it is an indication that the chef took time to actually think about what he or she will prepare and how they will present it in the best possible way for their guests to enjoy.

    trialsinfood said:
    May 3, 2012 at 21:22

    neat!

      Taste Café Pretoria responded:
      May 4, 2012 at 08:43

      Thanks, I still make my mistakes now and again, but that is the fun of working with food for me, today it will be perfect, tomorrow, big mistakes!

    Conor Bofin said:
    May 3, 2012 at 21:18

    You have to be quick to quenelle. I have made a bags of it so many times. The guide is excellent.
    Thanks,
    Conor

      Taste Café Pretoria responded:
      May 4, 2012 at 08:42

      Thanks Conor, You are right, speed is important, especially if it is a cold product such as ice cream or a mousse – taking too long and it will start to melt. In my chef’s training I struggled so much with it so, my lecturer made me sit with a bowl of cottage cheese which I had to quenelled, that was the best practice and it is a good and cheap way to learn the art.

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