Creating gravy for Thanksgiving dinner, a sophisticated sauce to go with that steak meal on a date, or even trying your hand at making real pasta ala carbonara all have one thing in common: sauce.
A thick, glossy, and delectable sauce is always preferable, even though no two sauces are exactly alike. (Come on, no one likes wimpy gravy or watery pasta sauce.)
Knowing which component to use and how to utilize it for the greatest outcomes can help you achieve the desired consistency.
Here are 6 simple methods for thickening sauce, regardless of what you're cooking.
When heated, the abundant protein included in egg yolks will thicken a sauce. You can experiment with adding different numbers of yolks to your sauce depending on how thick you want it to be (but start with one or two).
First, separate the egg whites from the yolks and place them in a bowl. You should temper the sauce by whisking a tiny bit of the spicy sauce into the egg yolk before adding that mixture back into the rest of the sauce to avoid the yolks from scrambling into it.
Egg yolks add richness without becoming gloppy to pasta sauces, making them particularly delectable. They can also thicken custards, cream sauces, and salad dressings.
Corn starch is widely used to thicken sauces, and for good reason. Even in modest dosages, it is widely available, inexpensive, flavorless, and incredibly effective at thickening. One reason it is occasionally preferred over flour is that when heated, it also yields a translucent mixture.
To thicken sauce, add about 1 tablespoon of corn starch per cup. When adding the corn starch to the hot sauce, mix it into an equal volume of cold water to create a slurry to prevent clumping. Pour the slurry into the sauce gradually as you stir it over medium heat. As you bring the sauce to a boil for one minute, continue whisking. This is crucial because cooking activates the corn starch, and shortening the cooking time will result in improper thickening.
Corn starch is a great substitute for thickening clear sauces (like stock- or soy-based sauces). Avoid using it if there is any acid because it will break down. It also functions admirably as a thickener in custard, pudding, and baking recipes.
Since the water content in a sauce evaporates during reduction, your sauce thickens without the addition of any additional components. Additionally, the flavor is concentrated, which might be advantageous in some meals.
Simply simmer your sauce over medium heat until it appears to have been reduced and has reached the desired thickness. You'll also want to season the sauce at the very end since if it reduces too much, it may taste overly salty (you can test this by coating the back of a spoon).
Reducing will result in a thick sauce that is neither excessively thick nor runny, making it a useful technique for pasta sauces and pan sauces. Avoid it if the dish contains soy sauce or a lot of salt.
Although it comes from a tropical plant, arrowroot is virtually comparable to corn starch. It thickens similarly to maize starch, but it thickens at a lower temperature and is even smoother and clearer. It can also be frozen and doesn't degrade when combined with acids. It is also free of gluten.
Just like maize starch, arrowroot can be used to thicken sauce. For each cup of sauce, use around 1 tbsp. The arrowroot should first be mixed with an equal amount of cold water to make a slurry. Pour the slurry into the sauce gradually as you stir it over medium heat. As you bring the sauce to a boil for one minute, continue whisking.
Replace corn starch with arrowroot or add it to sauces that contain acidic components (like lemon juice or vinegar). It can become sticky when used in sauces with dairy ingredients.
A small amount of butter added to a sauce won't significantly thicken it, but it can give extra richness and a glossy finish.
A few tablespoons of cold butter should be incorporated into the sauce after it has finished cooking. (If the sauce becomes too hot, it will crack and become greasy rather than glossy.)
Pasta sauces and pan sauces that don't need to be overly thick but might use some extra flavor benefit greatly from the addition of butter.
A common sauce thickener is flour. Most likely, your pantry already contains it. The starches in the flour expand when combined with liquid, giving the sauce body.
Before adding flour to a sauce to thicken it, you should boil it to remove the raw flavor. This is done by preparing a roux, which is a concoction of equal parts melted butter and flour. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Stir in the flour, then cook until it is nut-scented and golden brown. The roux can then be added and blended into the sauce.
Use flour to thicken sauces, soups, stews, and gravies with dairy ingredients. As opposed to corn starch, keep in mind that it won't thicken up as much and will cloud your sauce.