An ingredient used to thicken and gives body
to flavorful liquids. These flavorful liquids can be the juices from a
roast or a deglazed sauté pan, reduced and concentrated stocks, acidic
reduction of vinegar or wine with shallots and herbs, braising liquids
from stews or pot roasts, or simply condiments such as mustard.
Butter : Small amounts of whole butter are
often whisked into flavorful liquids such as the juices in a deglazed
sauté pan or concentrated braising juices ( the technique is called monter
au beurre), to give them a silky texture, a sauce like consistency and a
delicate, suave flavor. Larger amounts of butter are used to make butter
sauces such as beurre blanc or emulsified egg yolk sauces such as
Cornstarch : It can be stirred into an equal
amount of cold liquid (this mixture is sometimes called a slurry)
and then stirred into hot liquids shortly before serving, to give them
sheen and to thicken them. Cornstarch is used often in Chinese cooking as
a thickener. In classic French cooking, it's used to thicken roasting
Egg Yolks : Used in several ways to thicken
sauces. Traditionally, they were combined with cream and added to
roux-thickened mixtures to give them sheen and a silky consistency. They
are also whisked up into what is called a sabayon to form the base of
hollandaise sauce and its derivatives.
Flour : Can be used as a thickener in
several ways. It is sometimes turned into a roux by combining it with
butter and cooking it gently in a heavy-bottomed saucepan until it smells
toasty. White roux is cooked only for a few minutes while brown roux, used
in traditional brown sauces, is cooked gently until the flour turns pale
brown. Liquids such as milk and stock are whisked into hot roux and the
sauces gently cooked and often skimmed. Flour is also sometimes sprinkled
on meat and vegetables as they are browned for stews. In this way, the
flour cooks onto the surface of the meat and helps thicken the braising
liquid. Flour is also sometimes worked with an equal amount of butter into
a paste called beurre manie. It is whisked into red-wine stews and sauces
as a last-minute thickener.
Heavy Cream : Can be combined with flavorful
mixtures such as concentrated stock and then reduced until the sauce
reaches the desired consistency.
Pureed Vegetables : Cooked vegetable purees
are sometimes whisked into flavorful liquids to add texture and flavor.
Sometimes the vegetables are part of the cooking process, for example,
when the aromatic vegetables cooked in a stew are pureed and whisked back
into the stewing liquid, or when vegetables are cooked around a roast and
then pureed to thicken the jus. Vegetable purees can also be made ahead of
time and then used as last-minute thickeners and flavoring for deglazed
pan juices, stews, pot roast and roasting juices. Garlic puree, onion
puree and sorrel puree are some of the favorites.