Starches

1. Beurre manié (burr mahnyay) is a mixture of equal parts soft, raw butter and flour worked together to form a smooth paste. It is used for quick thickening at the end of cooking to finish a sauce.The raw butter adds flavor and gives a sheen to the sauce when it melts.

To use, drop very small pieces into a simmering sauce and stir with a whip until smooth. Repeat until desired consistency is reached. Simmer just a few minutes more to cook the flour, and then remove from the fire.

2. Whitewash is a thin mixture of flour and cold water. Sauces made with whitewash have neither as good a flavor nor as fine a texture as those made with roux. Whitewash is not recommended for use.

3. Cornstarch produces a sauce that is almost clear, with a glossy texture.

To use,mix with cold water or other cold liquid until smooth. Stir into the hot liquid. Bring to a boil and simmer until the liquid turns clear and there is no starchy taste. Do not boil for a long period or the starch may break down and the liquid become thin. Sauces thickened with cornstarch may thin out if held on the steam table for long periods. Cornstarch is used extensively in sweet sauces to accompany certain meats as well as in desserts and dessert sauces. It has roughly twice the thickening power of flour.

4. Arrowroot is used like cornstarch, but it gives an even clearer sauce. Its use is limited by its high cost. Nevertheless, because of its quality, it is the preferred starch for thickening jus lié. It is less likely than cornstarch to break down when heated for a long time.

5. Waxy maize is used for sauces that are to be frozen. Flour and other starches break down and lose their thickening power when frozen.Waxy maize does not. It is handled like cornstarch.

6. Pregelatinized or instant starches have been cooked, or gelatinized, and then redried.Thus, they can thicken a cold liquid without heating.These starches are rarely used in sauce-making but are frequently used in the bakeshop.

7. Bread crumbs and other crumbs will thicken a liquid quickly because they have already been cooked, like instant starches. Bread crumbs may be used when smoothness of texture is not desired.A common example is the use of gingersnap crumbs to thicken sauerbraten gravy.

8. Vegetable purées, ground nuts, and other solids can also be used. A simple tomato sauce is basically a seasoned vegetable purée.The sauce gets its texture from the thickness of the main ingredient. No additional thickener is needed.

Using this same principle, we can add body or texture to sauces by adding a smooth vegetable purée, or by puréeing mirepoix or other vegetables with the sauce. Other puréed or finely ground ingredients, such as ground nuts, add texture as well as flavor to a sauce.

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