Monday, December 3, 2012

In The Thick of Things - Beurre manié

Flour and Butter
When one thinks of thickeners for sauces, most people think of cornstarch or flour. One can leave your sauce jelly like and the other, can impart a "dough" type of flavor.
But there are better ways to give your sauce a rich silkiness by adding a few teaspoons of Beurre manié.
Beurre manié (French "kneaded butter") is a dough, consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour, used to thicken soups and sauces. By kneading the flour and butter together, the flour particles are coated in butter. When the beurre manié is whisked into a hot or warm liquid, the butter melts, releasing the flour particles without creating lumps.

Beurre manié should not be confused with roux, which is also a thickener made of equal parts of butter and flour, but which is cooked before use. And cornstarch (something I would never use except if I was making an asian dish) needs to be added as a slurry to a high temp liquid before it achives the desired constancy.

Because Beurre manié contains uncooked flour, liquids thickened using Beurre manié dough may have an undesirable floury or pasty taste due to the uncooked proteins in the flour. For this reason, it is important that the Beurre manie is allowed to cook adequately, rather than being added to a dish immediately before serving.

Beurre manie is also used as a finishing step for sauces, imparting a smooth, shiny texture prior to service. Once made, your Beurre manié should be kept covered and should last a couple of weeks in your fridge.

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