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Thickening broth with dabs of butter and flour

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
I'm copyediting a cookbook written by a number of chefs with ties to a local culinary school. Most of the recipes are upscale, complex, and classical in technique. However, there's one recipe that tells the cook to thicken a fish broth (in a mussel stew) with dabs of butter rolled in flour and then dropped into the soup. I queried this -- it seemed like a recipe for lumpy broth to me. However, I'm not a professional chef, so I'd hate to rule something out based on my limited knowledge.

The chef who submitted the recipe (a graduate of the program) is apparently unreachable, so two of the culinary school instructors looked over the recipe, and their reaction was the same as mine: huh? They would do the same thing I suggested: make a roux in a separate saute pan, ladle some of the broth into it, whisk, ladle a bit more, whisk, and then put the sauce into the soup, stirring all the while.

However, before I over-rule the original chef, I'd like to get some more opinions. Is the dab of butter rolled in flour technique well-known? Possible? Would it give a result as good as or better than the ordinary method?
post #2 of 28
buerre manie

buerre manie - Google Search

Classic french technique, though more for sauces than soups generally.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 28
Thread Starter 

Would it taste of flour?

Thanks! Given the name of the technique, I was able to look it up and found a number of references.

What I'm wondering now ... is this a quick-n-dirty technique that is inferior to a roux? Would the broth, thickened with beurre manie, be more likely to taste of flour?
post #4 of 28
actually , I think it would be a thinner roux (more butter then flour mixture) then a normal roux which is why it's not a roux. Just a technique for thickening sauces. Also for a fish sauce I personally wouldn't want a thick heavy sauce. A roux for a stew or a chowder would be much too thick IMO and this technique is a easy solution for thinning out a normal roux.... and now for BDL....:p
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post #5 of 28
He'll tell me I spelled it wrong. Which I did. But I don't speak french and it was just from memory. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #6 of 28
Thread Starter 

Why the chefs didn't recognize it

As I compare the online info re beurre manie with the mussel stew recipe, I see that the former culinary student who wrote the recipe must have misremembered the lesson on beurre manie. She calls for rolling bits of butter in flour, whereas all the online recipes called for making a paste of butter and flour, with the fingers, before forming it into balls. She also didn't remember the name of the technique.

I would guess that if it had been the right technique and the name had been given, the instructors would have recognized it. Even though I've been careful about giving names, I wouldn't want anyone thinking that the unnamed instructors were incompetent.

I'm going to ask for permission to rewrite the recipe so that it gives the classical technique and the usual name. This cookbook is aimed at competent home cooks who want to expand their techniques and repertoire, so an introduction to beurre manie would be apropos. Working on the cookbook has certainly expanded my horizons.

It's an odd job, copyediting cookbooks. I feel like a translator, helping chefs who are a hundred times better than I am communicate with average cooks like me. I'm just better with words, that's all.
post #7 of 28
Beurre manie is not roux because the butter isn't melted before the flour is incorporated, nor is the incorporation over heat. Instead, butter is softened and the flour is kneaded in with the fingers, or manie, which makes sense if you speak French.

The proportions of flour to butter are exactly the same as for a standard roux. In other words 1 : 1.

Some people don't like beurre manie because they (say that they) taste the "raw" on the flour. In fact, you have to be careful about not overusing it for exactly that reason. However, used reasonably no one ever complains -- at least not that I've heard.

In addition to using it for recipes, it's a good idea to make a few logs of beurre manie and keep them in the fridge for emergency thickenings.

Beurre manie must go into very hot liquid or it will fulfill Zora's gloomiest fantasies.

Hope this helps,
BDL
post #8 of 28
so does it not count as a beurre manie? and also is my assumption correct that this would result in a lighter sauce? cause it sounds like this would work fine. I'm just throwing this out as it may be a home recipe or something that uses this odd mutation.
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post #9 of 28
Beurre Manie is fine as a last minute fix but it is inferior to roux. I'd rather keep roux on hand and add bits of cooled roux to fix my sauces or soups. Not that I do because, well, roux just isn't as popular as it once was. The trick to avoid lumps is to dip a sieve into the mixture and whisk in the paste inside the sieve.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
She's free to do whatever she wants in her home, but a cookbook authorized by a culinary academy reflects on the school.

I'm querying again, but I don't think that the authors would want to include the recipe if it involves butter bits coated with flour. I would guess that some of the flour would not be encased in fat and might tend to lump.

A test kitchen could answer some of these questions definitively, but a small local press can't afford one. Nor can I afford to buy expensive ingredients and spend my own time cooking to check on recipes. Oh well ... I have done so a few times, but I can't make a habit of it.
post #11 of 28
It seems like we believe that the original recipe intended it to be a beurre manie, but the technique for making it as described is unconventional (where beurre manie is butter and flour mixed to a point is forms a homogeneous paste). The suggestion of rolling butter in flour may suggest that the chef wanted to have a lighter thickener than the standard beurre manie though I'm confident the same effect can be achieved by making a mixture in the technique of beurre manie with less flour.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say that despite the "strangeness" of the method try it out and see if it works... I've found that given a dish five well qualified chefs will most likely prepare it five extraordinarily different ways if left to their own devices, sometimes none of them "wrong".
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
The ingredients list has 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 tablespoons of butter for the beurre manie manque (imagine accents aigu on manie and manque). The proportions are 1:1, as in the canonical beurre manie. That's why I'm guessing that the culinary graduate only half-remembered the formula.

But I can't be sure. All I can do is query the culinary instructors and do what they say. The copyeditor's mantra: Not my book, not my book.
post #13 of 28
Zora, I've used this process. A roux would alter the flavor of the fish stock because a roux, by definition, is cooked; even the whitest of white.

I am making the assumption the the chef-writer wants to slightly enrich the stock with the butter and ever-so-slightly thicken it. The amount of flour attached to the butter is nowhere near a 1:1 roux. The flour should appear on the butter dab as cocoa powder would on a chocolate truffle, or less. Then, of course, as it's dropped into the stock, there must be continuous motion to avoid clumping.

Trust the chef who wrote the recipe. It works.
post #14 of 28
Incidently, had I written a recipe for publication that called for a beurre manie and an editor decided to change beurre manie to a roux, I'd go nuclear.
post #15 of 28
Thread Starter 
All would be well if I were able to communicate directly with the chef, I'm sure. The problem seems to be that the original writer is unavailable and I'm dealing with a committee.

I just finished a cookbook where I was working with only ONE author (a woman with a catering business and small cooking school). We exchanged a dozen emails a day at the height of the madness. Nothing was changed without her knowledge and permission.

A good cook is not necessarily a good writer. What I face: no quantities given, steps omitted, explanations omitted, sentences so garbled that I can't figure out what the cook is supposed to do. I have to nudge authors to make things explicit.

I understand that once you've made a dish several times, you can often dispense with recipes and just go with your cook's intuition. However, someone who is cooking something for the first time, someone who has never tasted the dish nor seen it made, may need extremely precise instructions to achieve an edible first attempt.

I should perhaps add that I'm also acutely aware of the limitations of text and supplementary pictures in conveying cooking skills. Videos are better, but you still can't smell the dish, or taste it as it develops. That's why serious chefs apprentice, or go to culinary school.
post #16 of 28
so Zora have you talked to BDL about pimping...errr...assisting him with his planned cookbook? No lack of instructions there. I'll help proofread. and thanks to RSteve about agreeing with the lighter sauce thing, agreed also with the very light coat of flour and severe stirring when applied to heat.
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post #17 of 28
I'd use it like butter just to cream at the end. In fact I'd avoid the flour. I don't see the need. When in the trenches we used this buerre maine as a roux on the fly. Nothing more. We would knead the flour into the butter. It was a lazy method of thickening.
post #18 of 28
Frankly, I don't think it's lazy at all. It's a different process to control the amount of the final product's viscosity without altering the taste.
post #19 of 28
??????????????????
post #20 of 28
I would think that since the cooking of the flour in fat decreases its overall thickening power (transition from white to blonde to dark roux) I'd say that a beurre manie gives the most thickening power per gram of stuff.
"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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"If it's chicken, chicken a la king. If it's fish, fish a la king. If it's turkey, fish a la king." -Bender
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post #21 of 28
Blue,

Whether you're right or wrong (I'd guess you're right), that's impressive analysis.

Kudos,
BDL
post #22 of 28

chefedb

When I was Apprenticing and worked with old timers, a manie butter was equal parts of butter and flour that was placed in mixer and beaten together then formed into rolled cylinders in parchment paper. Pieces then sliced off and used to further thicken some sauces. In reality used to fix errors of proportion or simply mistakesin original dish.
Cream Soups on the other hand were finished before service with beaten egg and cream called a Laisson. This slightly thickened the soup and also gave it a silky richness. Naturally the soup could not be brought to a reboil for fear of breaking.
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #23 of 28
Liason, not "Laisson." Not a proper noun, either. No need to capitalize. All liquids thickened with eggs are termed liasons.

BDL
post #24 of 28
Since some are getting picky on wording and spelling, as a French speaking individual I offer these precisions:

the term is called: beurre manié which literally means <handled butter using hands> a closer English term would be kneaded butter which is what is used to describe the technique in Wikipedia.

Liaison is a noun that translates as bind in English (as in binding a sauce together).


As a food science teacher here is how it works:
fat coats the starch grains of the flour. When the fat melts in a hot liquid the starch grains are dispersed apart from each other then the water will eventually get to them to make them swell away from each other without clumping. Once the grains are well swollen with water it thickens the liquid. Technically one can mix oil and flour and obtain similar results then beurre manié (I do it).

A beurre manié is different from a roux in 2 basic ways:
a. for the same amount of added flour to a liquid a beurre manié will bind better the a roux because more starch is available. When making a roux a Maillard reaction occurs between the flour proteins and starch (and lose carbs) to give the distinctive colour hence a roux has less binding power.

b. a beurre manié is a bland tasting binder compared to a roux for the reasons explained above. A roux will have more taste also because of the Maillard reaction. I would guess a beurre manié is more appropriate for delicate tasting foods and when a little is required for a correction as to not impart too much of a flour taste but the flour taste does cook out after a minute of simmering (if the recipe permits it).

By the way, roux means redhead.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #25 of 28
Did Not Know That People Were Being Graded Here Excuse Us Chef Ed
CHEFED
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CHEFED
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post #26 of 28
Thread Starter 
The interface here makes it impossible to add accents aigu, grave, circonflex, as well as the cedilla, without cutting and pasting them from some other application. Perhaps Luc has a French-enabled keyboard. Or perhaps he's figured out something about the interface that I haven't? I'd like to be able to type proper French without opening up Word, going to Insert symbol, adding the required character to a blank document, then copying it there and pasting it here.
post #27 of 28
I have a Canadian legacy keyboard... French Canadian, English Canadian and US layout.
Comes in handy because I switch to both languages very often.

Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
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I eat science everyday, do you?
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post #28 of 28
Here's a slightly easier way: Ascii Table - ASCII character codes and html, octal, hex and decimal chart conversion

At the bottom is the extended ascii codes; most of the characters you'll want are there. If you're on windows, hold down the "alt" key while you type in the 3 digit code for the character you wish to insert and: Æ ¥ ▓
There you go.
Anulos qui animum ostendunt omnes gestemus!
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