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I'll try a different angle then, how about a sauce gravy thickener?

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 

ok no bites on the carne guisada so let me ask it this way. I'm curious what do you guys use to thicken the sauces and gravies without altering the flavor profile too much. I've used flour but have heard sometimes masa harina (for corn tortillas) is better or just corn starch. My aunt brougt some very fine powery stuff from England last year and it was great but we dont know what it was or where to get more.

any help appreciated

tnx

post #2 of 24

potato starch, corn starch, xanthum gum, flour, all these will thicken a sauce. even just using cream and reducing it will thicken a sauce a bit.

"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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"In those days spirits were brave, the stakes were high, men were real men, women were real women, and small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri were real small furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. "
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post #3 of 24
I don't know what your aunt gave you, but I use cornflour, tapioca flour and rice flour as thickeners. For clear sauces for puddings or for such as a cherry sauce for duck, I use arrowroot.
post #4 of 24
Thread Starter 

Hmmm, arrowroot?

post #5 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by QUETEX View Post

Hmmm, arrowroot?



Yup: http://www.spiceislands.com/Spices/SpiceDetails.aspx?Id=d34450da-7c4f-4c73-86c0-540226d50e3f

 

The only thickener that will not dilute the flavor is no-thickener at all, just reduce until you get the desired consistency. Anything else will affect the flavor and texture in one way or another, it's a matter of finding the right thickener for the job and for your palate.

post #6 of 24

Arrowroot doesn't have much taste, leaves the sauce clearer than most starch thickeners, and will bind a very acid sauce where corn-starch for instance wouldn't.  But it has it's limitations.  It won't hold up to heat, and is not durable over time.

 

BDL

post #7 of 24

Each gravy and sauce uses different ingredients. The thickener required depends on what those are. In high acid sauces some will break down, on sauces held a while in steam table some  will break down due to heat. Some will make the product gummy.There are many thickeners used by commercial food companies that you do not have access to.Some are natural, some man made.

I would agree with BDL above that the best one for you may be Arrowroot Starch. Also there should be no guessing as to the amount of thickener as all are a matter of chemical balance.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #8 of 24

How about revealing some "chef" tricks?

The time that chefs made their own fonds is in the past for many of them, with a strong emphasis; not all of them.

Why? Like Ed said, unlike consumers, pro's have access to stuff made by Unilever (Knorr etc.) and others, specialized in the professional market. I assembled just a few of them in one picture. Most come from unileverfoodsolutions.com

The first 3 are professional market only.

- number one; fond in pasteform to dissolve in water, ready for use. Comes in buckets of 10 kg!

- number two; fonds in powder to dissolve in water. Packages of 1 kilo, to make around 15 liter of fond.

- number three; roux in granulate to easily thicken sauces

- number four; Maggi in very small packages of powdered fonds for the consumer market. Contains a thickener!!! Easy to reduce without getting too salty! To be added to sauces or to be dissolved before adding. Exists in veal, fish and chicken. I frequently use the veal! Works perfect for a hobbycook. I would simply recommend vealfond to all (if available in your country), it's a long job to make it. Chicken and fish fonds are easy to make yourself.

 

 

KnorrFondenRouxMaggi.jpg

post #9 of 24

Just one addition, Chris. Dry roux is available in retail quantities in some areas, such as Louisiana and other parts of the American Gulf Coast.

 

To me it just tastes like burnt flour, but some folks swear by it.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #10 of 24

KYH, I used a picture of brown roux, but Knorr makes also a plain roux. I hear from pro's that all these Knorr product are surprisingly good...

 

But, speaking of roux, and staying on topic, it surprises me that pro's around here don't mention "beurre manié" (I don't know an english translation, there probably isn't). It's still in use for thickening larger quantities of sauces, I used it frequently in the past. It's simply mixing together equal parts butter and flour without any cooking at all. When sauces are done, beurre manié was added a bit at a time to the simmering sauce. You have to cook the sauce for some time after adding it, to get rid of flourtaste.

 

Another question that popped in my head a few weeks ago, was when I watched a chef make a roux(butter and flour) on the stovetop as usual and transfer it to an oven, where it stayed untill it was lightly colored and -as he was looking for-  smelled like "biscuit" (not a cookie, the tart base). My question was wether it would be possible to make a similar roux, let it cool, put in a food processor to crumble, and use it like the commercial roux thickeners; simply sprinkle some of it in a sauce after the sauce's cooking time.

post #11 of 24

Beurre manie used to be a fairly common thickener in the States, Chris, but rarely by professionals. It was mostly used by cookbook writers as a shortcut, for thickening things like stews more than sauces.

 

I suspect it fell in disfavor because when done correctly there is no real time savings. You have to knead the flour and dough to incorporate them well, add it in small chunks, and, as you say, cook it for some time to remove the raw flour taste. 

 

All that being the case, might as well start with a roux to begin with.

 

Of course, given the modern fashion, all of the starch-bound sauces are falling more and more into disfavor.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #12 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Just one addition, Chris. Dry roux is available in retail quantities in some areas, such as Louisiana and other parts of the American Gulf Coast.

 

To me it just tastes like burnt flour, but some folks swear by it.



A jar of that works fine as a paperweight. I wouldn't let it anywhere near a pot, though.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #13 of 24

    Hi all,

 

      I don't normally think of using arrowroot as a thickener for a warm gravy, it doesn't hold long, it does not respond well to heat...or re-heating.  I'm just a little surprised to see the praises of arrowroot when discussing a warm gravy.  I suppose arrowroot does have the least amount of flavor...but it certainly comes with its set of problems.

 

   Quetex, it's a little difficult to offer up a suggestion for your perfect thickener when your preference will change with each dish (as others have said).  Why are you so focused on a tasteless thickening agent?  A light roux will have decent thickening power and hold up good too,  you do have to cook it a bit otherwise it will lend that raw flour taste.  The darker you take a roux the more complex the flavors get, but it also loses its thickening powers as it gets darker.  Cornstarch does well too...it thickens nicely while offering a decent hold to the warm gravy.  It can taste a bit "starchy" if it isn't cooked at all...but it can take some decent heat while cooking.  Just don't push it too far with heat or stirring or it can become thin...but it doesn't offer up too much flavor.

 

    There are certainly other things that can be used as thickeners but they have their own characteristics.  I don't know...sometimes a roux fits the flavor profiles quite well.  Other times an egg yolk may be nice...or butter...or cream...or....

 

     dunno

 

  dan

post #14 of 24
Thread Starter 

makes sense gonefishing and  all. Yes realise now it depends on what your making. Guess I just like the natural taste of the meat instead of the flour. Looks like I have a lot to learn.

post #15 of 24
Quote:
My question was wether it would be possible to make a similar roux, let it cool, put in a food processor to crumble, and use it like the commercial roux thickeners; simply sprinkle some of it in a sauce after the sauce's cooking time.

Quite possible indeed, but rather than the food processor, which might cause some issue with crumbling due to the friction creating heat, I would recommend leaving it in block form and than when it is time to use it, use a cheese grater right over your sauce for beautiful shaved roux bits that incorporate beautifully.

Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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Wisdom comes with age, but sometimes age comes alone.
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post #16 of 24

Chris!

Knorr makes a fine commercial line of products as does Louis Minor, and a company called Custom Bases in Jersey. They have both low ball priced bases and extra pricey depending on what quality you want.  When I served my apprenticeship we cooked plain flour in a 325 oven and made a blonde flour for blond roux and a browned flour for brown roux. The chef told us take out the brown one when it smells like Hazelnuts. The both flours were cooled and placed in bins for making the roux s later.  It shortened cooking time of some sauces. I have not seen this done in over 30 years. The great part of it was not only speed but you never tasted undercooked roux. Sysco Corp. handles a thickener or modified food starch that can be sprinkled out of a shaker for hot liquids and they make a thickener for cold foods. Neither are for gourmet cooking , but they do work. Manie butter was NOT made on the spot> It was pre-maid and rolled in parchment paper and kept in fridge until it was needed .A few slices were cut off into whatever sauce you wanted to thicken.

I tried a sample of a chicken base a few weeks ago, that I could not tell the difference between a home-cooked one and this lab made one.  Their is a flavor manufacturer on Jersey Turnpike that I once went to with an ACF group . The man running the place would ask ''want to smell or taste any thing in food? If you gave him what you waned to taste, he would take a small numbered  bottle from a shelf  and open it. Put an eye dropper in it and put a drop on your finger. Lets say you told him A Big  Mac ? Well low and behold thats what you would taste and smell. We all agreed at that time, that yes this was the future of the food business. That was in the early 80s sure enough it came to be.


Edited by chefedb - 12/1/10 at 11:19am

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #17 of 24

Define "fonds" please.  I've only heard "fond" used to describe the particles stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking.  It sounds as though you're referring to thickening agents.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChrisBelgium View Post

How about revealing some "chef" tricks?

The time that chefs made their own fonds is in the past for many of them, with a strong emphasis; not all of them.

post #18 of 24

Knorr, Louis Minor and Custom Bases make great Commercial Bases and Roux s. I recently had a sample of a new low salt chick base that will soon be out. I could not tell the difference between it  and our house made fresh one. Needless to say I was impressed.  Manni butter used to be made in advance and rolled in parchment paper in fridge> When needed, a piece was cut off and used to thicken sauce  Flour used to be toasted and colored in a 325 oven till blond and brown then cooled and stored in bins till a roux was to be made. You cooked it till it smelled like roasting hazelnuts not burned. It quickened the making of the final roux and assured the flour taste was out and not burned. Putting an already made roux in oven is a little more chancey 

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #19 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

Define "fonds" please.  I've only heard "fond" used to describe the particles stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking.  It sounds as though you're referring to thickening agents.

 

gobblygook, in French, "fond" means "stock" (or sometimes broth or jus).


Edited by French Fries - 12/1/10 at 1:46pm
post #20 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by French Fries View Post



Quote:
Originally Posted by gobblygook View Post

Define "fonds" please.  I've only heard "fond" used to describe the particles stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking.  It sounds as though you're referring to thickening agents.

 

gobblygook, in French, "fond" means "stock" (or sometimes broth or jus).

 

Fond in french means base or foundation

 

 

in cooking  terms Fond the the goodness that is left stuck to the pan after sauteeing/roasting

 

fonds refers to the principal foundation stocks and sauces used in all french based cuisine

 

 

fonds of chicken would be Chicken stock  one of the principal ingriedients in cooking

 

fond from chicken would be the bits and peaces and left in the pan after roasting or sauteing 

 

using french terms is stupid sometimes, just like the english languages that pillages these words to make understanding english 10,000 times harder , but pillaging these words is easier than making up our own i guess

post #21 of 24


 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Williams View Post

 

in cooking  terms Fond the the goodness that is left stuck to the pan after sauteeing/roasting

 

In English, you are correct, but not in French. In French, fond means stock. That's what Chris was discussing earlier (notice he's talking about products with French labels).

 

Quote:

Originally Posted by Jason Williams View Post

 

fonds of chicken would be Chicken stock  one of the principal ingriedients in cooking

 

fond from chicken would be the bits and peaces and left in the pan after roasting or sauteing

 

Are we still talking about French language? In French there's no distinction between "of" and "from", both are tranlsated to de. Fond de volaille is a poultry stock, Fond de poulet is a chicken stock.

 

And in French the bits of caramelized juices at the bottom of the pan are called sucs.


Edited by French Fries - 12/2/10 at 2:00am
post #22 of 24

Sorry for the late answer, GG. Fond as used in French cuisine terms, means indeed stock.

 

Ed, a friend of mine started a business years ago, making filled scallop shells with fish and seafood, covered in a rouxbased white fishsauce. These were then frozen.

The guy took some shells to present to a big company specialized in frozen food. There, the buyer put one of the shells in his microwave to try. The sauce curdled!!!

The buyer said this was very common for frozen handmade sauces on rouxbase, heated in a microwave. He advised my friend to go to Knorr and buy a powder, as, like you said, you can hardly taste a difference (note; this happened years ago)... but, Knorr made him a powder based on my friends very own recipe! Problem solved...

post #23 of 24

Chris!  

Many manufacturers today will customize any product you like if you order enough. The is great because you don't have the resources for R and D  like they do. In fact some will even if good enough buy o, lease, or license your idea. Its a win situation for all. This started many years ago in the canning industry. You and I could have packed tuna made by someone else under our own label and we distributed same in supply chain. I knew a guy in NY who did this with frozen shrimp. He never even saw the shrimp or tasted them, he just sits in his office in midtown  and  had them packed for him under his label in Japan and he distributes here.

Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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Chef EdB
Over 50 years in food service business 35 as Ex Chef. Specializing in Volume upscale Catering both on and off premise .(former Exec. Chef in the largest on premise caterer in US  with 17 Million Dollars per year annual volume). 
      Well versed in all facets of Continental Cuisine...

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post #24 of 24

Good points Ed. Except, private labeling is not the same as custom canning.

 

F'rinstance, an old boss of mine made an incredible chili. So good, in fact, that he gave six packs of it as corporate Christmas gifts, and woe betide us if they went out late.

 

Using his recipe and his label, a custom canner did the actual work of producing the chili, filling the cans, and applying the labels.

 

Private labeling, on the other hand, is as you describe your friend with the frozen shrimp. It's essentially what supermarkets do for their housebrands, except that the housebrands often use a lower grade product. That is why you might find, say Libby's peas and a house-brand peas all done in the same package, but the Libbies are A grade, and the house brand different sizes, some broken, etc.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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