<p><a onclick="window.open(this.href, '_blank', 'width=800,height=533,scrollbars=no,resizable=no,toolbar=no,directories=no,location=no,menubar=no,status=no,left=0,top=0'); return false" href="http://blog.ruhlman.com/.shared/image.html?/photos/uncategorized/2007/12/17/final.jpg"><img width="600" height="399" border="0" src="http://blog.ruhlman.com/images/2007/12/17/final.jpg" title="Final" alt="Final" /></a></p>

<p>(Two tablespoons butter, two tablespoons flour, <em>beurre manié,</em> photo by <a href="http://dtrphotography.com/">Donna</a>.)</p>

<p><strong><em>Beurre manié </em>[<em>bur mahn-YAY</em>]</strong>: <em>Butter into which an equal volume of flour has been rubbed and kneaded becomes an easy, effective way to thicken small amounts of sauces while also enriching them.&nbsp; A slurry (cornstarch and water), may be quicker and more widely used, but it doesn’t enrich or add flavor.&nbsp; Butter does.&nbsp; Beurre manié is especially suited to thickening pan gravies, meat stews, fish stews, and the poaching liquid in which fish has cooked (sometimes called cuisson; see also shallow poach), and should be used a la minute, just before serving.</em></p>

<p>In other words, it’s uncooked roux and works the same way.&nbsp; Fat separates the flour granules so that they remain separate as they expand to thicken a sauce.&nbsp; <a href="http://ahungerartist.bobdelgrosso.com/2007/12/thickening-it-old-school.html">Bob del Grosso posted some pix</a> of this after some email we exchanged, there were some great comments about thickening generally, and then foodist was inspired to write a post about roux on Bob's site.</p>

<p>Flour-thickened sauces are beautiful if you prepare them thoughtfully, which means two things: adding the right amount of roux and eliminating the starchy feel from the sauce cooking it gently and skimming the gunk that collects on the surface.&nbsp; I think roux got a bad name generally as French haute cuisine developed a reputation for being fat and heavy (fine cuisine should never feel heavy).&nbsp; &nbsp;Roux does not make a sauce fat or heavy.&nbsp; Indeed, it can be a healthful form of cooking.&nbsp; The béchamel sauce, for instance, milk thickened with roux and flavored with aromats, is a great way to add creaminess to pastas without using huge amounts of cream and butter.&nbsp; Moreover, milk is a kitchen staple and always on hand (unlike fresh stock, but I don’t want to get into that again!).</p>

<p>Chefs today tend more toward natural reductions.&nbsp; Sounds nice, doesn’t it—“natural reductions.”&nbsp; I find that too often natural reductions that are brought to sauce consistency are gluey on the palate.&nbsp; Also, in terms of home cooking, flour thickening is more convenient.&nbsp; &nbsp;I find that flour thickened sauces have a rich elegant feel if the starch is properly handled.</p>

<p>Someone on del Grosso’s post questioned the liaison.&nbsp; I might have posted that as today’s element.&nbsp; A liason, a mixture of yolk and cream (traditionally 1 yolk per half coup of cream), can be added to creamy stews to enrich them.&nbsp; Liasons don’t have much thickening power given but give a creamy stew and incomparable velvety luxurious texture.&nbsp; It is indeed another element of cooking commonly overlooked in today’s kitchens.</p>

<p>(Post script: David Leite, of Leite’s Culinaria, <a href="http://www.leitesculinaria.com/">has posted what seems to be a reappraisal of my book</a>, <em><a href="http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0743299787/ref=nosim/ruhlmancom">The Elements of Cooking</a></em>.&nbsp; David is a good and generous writer and the site he started has won many deserved awards, and I’m glad for his review.)</p>


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