The majority of sauces and nearly all varieties of gravy require the addition of a thickening agent at some point in the preparation process. It’s possible that this is any one of a number of different things.
Because all starches share the characteristic of being able to absorb more volume from any liquid in which they are placed, they are the type that are utilized the most frequently. However, it is essential to keep in mind that they frequently exhibit contrasting patterns of behavior.
One such example is the arrowroot, which possesses an intriguing quality. When added to a liquid, it has a tendency to improve the clarity of the liquid.
This works really well for fruit sauces, but it might not be quite as effective when used with meat-based gravy. In my opinion, it lends it an artificial appearance; however, you might enjoy the way it looks, so if that’s the case, go ahead and use it.
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Before being added to a hot substance, starch-based ingredients like arrowroot, cornstarch, and potato flour have to be combined with a liquid that is at room temperature. They should be added very gradually and allowed to cook for a while after each batch before any additional additions are made.
Because the thickening effect doesn’t necessarily stay put for very long, this step must be performed at the very end of the preparation process. When left on the heat for an extended period of time, liquids that have been thickened by starch have a tendency to become less viscous.
Making use of flour Don’t be concerned that the addition of flour will result in a lumpy gravy! Even if there is no fat present, the flour will still be able to be whisked into the sauce or gravy as long as there is something to keep it from becoming lumpy.
Either as a roux or in the form of a Beurre Mani is the most effective way to put it to use. These are essentially the same thing, but they are applied somewhat differently to different situations.
Both involve combining an equal amount of flour and butter (or another type of fat, if you prefer), and both end up producing the same thing. They make liquids more viscous.
To make a roux First, melt an ounce of butter in a small saucepan over a heat source that will allow it to cook, then add an ounce of plain flour and cook the mixture while stirring it. The amount of time needed to cook the food will be entirely determined by the color that you want to achieve.
As a consequence of the flour’s darkening during the longer cooking time, the sauce will become darker in color.
As soon as the mixture reaches the color that you desire, remove the saucepan from the heat and slowly pour in a half pint of stock while whisking vigorously.
Please put all of the information you have ever read about this procedure to one side. It is not necessary for the stock to be at a specific temperature when added, nor should it be added gradually. Simply pour everything in and get out of there quickly.
The next step is to put the pan back on the burner and bring the liquid to a boil.
A minimum of two additional minutes of cooking time will be required for the gravy that is produced; failing to do so will likely result in the gravy having a raw taste, which is caused by some starch that has not been cooked.
Simply keep it on low heat, but cover it so that no skin can form on the surface of the liquid.
Even if a lump does form, it is usually possible to whisk it back into the mixture; if this is not possible, strain the mixture before serving.
Beurre Mani? No one really knows how or why this works, but it does, and it is very effective if you need to thicken a large quantity of liquid, or one that already has food cooking in it. It is named for the chef who invented it, but no one really knows how or why it works.
The trick is to slightly soften the butter and mix it together with the flour before using the same measurements as you did for the roux. After that, you bring the liquid that needs to be thickened to a boil while stirring, and then you drop little chunks of this mixture into the liquid.
When the flour is heated, it will combine with the liquid and cause the liquid to become thicker.
Sauces à la mode A great deal rides on the foundation of your sauce in the first place, as well as the temperature at which you intend to serve it.
For instance, the concentration of fruit juices can be lowered while liquid glucose is added. This will result in a sauce that is glossy and maintains its integrity even when chilled.
When I say that it is stable, what I mean is that it will not separate and it will not move around the plate very much, which is beneficial if you are trying to create a specific effect.
Cornstarch and arrowroot are the two most common ingredients used to thicken hot sauces. The latter will have a transparent appearance, whereas cornstarch will make the overall appearance cloudy. Both of these components need to be added with extreme care. If you do it incorrectly, you could end up with a sauce that is almost inedible.
The golden rule is to add just a little bit at a time, and if the mixture becomes too thick, add a little bit more liquid.
As thickening agents, you can use anything from egg yolks and gelatin to cream and even cream of tartar. Eggs, for instance, are the foundation of every kind of custard, including desserts like lemon meringue pie.
Again, you need to try out different things to find out what works best for you. When it’s hot, a sauce can have a very runny consistency, but as it cools, it can thicken up and stick to whatever it’s on.
One delicious illustration of this is toffee sauce. It’s just a reduction of sugar and water that has cream stirred into it just as the sugar starts to turn brown. If it is allowed to cool, it will resemble the appearance, behavior, and taste of bottled caramel topping, but it will taste much better.
The vanilla sauce is comparable in some ways. I make mine by whisking together three egg yolks, two ounces of sugar, and then pouring 250 milliliters of hot cream over the mixture after it has been whipped. After this has been brought to the desired consistency (while being careful not to let it boil), a few drops of vanilla extract are added.
For important occasions, I prefer to use a vanilla pod rather than vanilla extract. Egg yolks are a traditional ingredient that are often used in recipes that call for a thickener.
Use your imagination. As time goes on and you gain more experience, you’ll find that you naturally begin to develop your own methods.
Make an effort to think creatively outside the norm. For instance, using red currant jelly as a thickener in a sauce for lamb would be a great idea. Or you could try a combination of mint sauce and gelatin (yes, that really does work).
Keep in mind that only you can determine whether or not you have succeeded in accomplishing whatever it is you are working toward. As far as your guests are concerned, the texture of the sauce that you serve is perfect for the purpose that it was intended to serve. Do not apologize for it because doing so will make you feel like a failure.
If it not only looks good but also tastes good and goes well with the food that it is served with, then you have done an excellent job with it. What difference does it make if it’s a little bit thin or if you can slice it with a knife? There are going to be people who like it either way, as well as people who like both ways.
The trick is to maintain a low profile. Prepare it with style, won’t you? It should be served with flair.