In the Thick of Things

base + thickening agent + flavor profile = sauce

We are definitely in the thick of all things {awesome} sauce. We covered our bases. Up next, we need to know more about how to thicken sauces. This process is better defined by understanding techniques and implementing methods. Identifying which thickening technique to use is largely determined by the type of base ingredient.  For instance, the gravy pictured below was crafted from pan juices and a corn starch slurry.


Sunday pot roast with potatoes and gravy

On a completely unrelated note, every time I slurry a sauce, I can’t help but subconsciously sing {like nobody’s fool} “slurry with a fringe on top” in a Billy Crystal, Meg Ryan, When Harry Met Sally sort-of fashion. I can think of no better tribute to the first movie that made me laugh so hard, I suffered incessant side aches {tangent complete}.

As home-cooks, we don’t need to know all the thickening agents. Lets be sensible, shall we?  We really just need to know the heavy hitters. Those methods that make us look impressive, yet employ items we already have in our kitchens. I have narrowed our focus down to five thickening agents that bring the most bang for our buck.

top five thickening agents for the HOME-COOK
  1. Slurry: a mixture of equal parts corn starch and cold water.
  2. Roux {pronouced “roo”}: a mixture of equal parts butter and flour, cooked to a golden color.
  3. Fat: butter, olive oil, egg yolk to name a few.
  4. Reduction: bringing liquid to a boil and reduce heat to simmer, uncovered, until liquid thickens to sauce.
  5. Puree: blend or pulse ingredients to thicken.

Stay tuned for more information on thickening agents. We will discuss them in greater detail, focusing on how and when to implement each one. Ta-ta for now.

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