Thickener for Food

Thickener for Food

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 hollandaise sauce.

  • 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 juices.

  • 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.

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