Last night I made Saltimbocca for dinner. It came out great, theonly problem was the thickness of the sauce... it was too thin for us.

I reduced the juices almost completely, swirled in some butter, but it didn't get thick enough. In fact, it made me think that unless there is a thickening agent, reducing juices will only evaporate the liquid and concentrate the flavor. I had a similar problem last T-day, but I added enough flour to make it thicker.

What else can I do? Add a demi-glace? Add flour? What works best?
Original Post
The best thickener I've used is arrowroot powder. Make a slurry with the powder and some of the liquid from the recipe. Pour it in slowly while whisking.

Arrowroot provides better texture than flour, and also gives the product a nice sheen. I'm surprised it doesn't get mentioned more often by chefs.
While I am definately not a pro, I sometimes use just a pinch of cornstarch (depends on how much sauce I have that I am trying to thicken).

Not sure if that would work for your dish in specific but I do find that sometimes I like to use it rather than flour depending on what I am making.
The best way to ensure you dont have flour loose in the sauce is mix it with an equal amount of butter. I usually take a tablespoon of each and just put it on a paper plate and incoporate it till its a solid mass. Then add bits of it to the pan and stir till your sauce gets thick enough. Remember the lighter the "roux" the more thickening power it has.

Demi wouldnt thicken it the way you are thinking. That is only to jack up the flavour without increasing the volume.
quote:
Originally posted by mwagner7700:
I'm surprised no one has mentioned demi-glace.


I'm not. Takes a lot of time and a lot of work, unless you can buy some in a good soup/stock store. It's the best way to enrich a sauce, both flavor and texture, but in our hectic modern lives...

<shrug>
Slurry of cornstarch and water has always been a reliable standby for me, especially with a sauce that is large in volume. Go gently, as there is a delayed thickening reaction, and if you add it too quickly you'll end up with an overthick sauce. A roux is another way to go. I have avoided flour lately, as (probably my fault) I think it is more likely to add starchy flavor. I used arrowroot as a thickener when I was "low carbing" but never took to it. I'll send you mine, Seaquam!!

PH
I never use flour or cornstarch (or arrowroot) to thicken my sauces. Reducing the liquid works fine for me. If cream is used in the sauce, reduce the other liquids fully before adding the cream. Heat at high heat til the bubbles begin to get larger, then turn the heat off or you might have the sauce separate.

I keep a chicken portobello demi-glace in my freezer at all times. It takes quite a while to make but it adds great flavor to sauces. As mentioned above, it's not a thickener.
quote:
Originally posted by mwagner7700:
Post away, PH. Smile


OK, you asked for it. Wink

Veal Demi-Glace

Start with good veal stock.

Veal Stock

(Makes 4 quarts)

1/4 cup vegetable oil
8 pounds veal bones, cut into 3-inch chunks, rinsed and patted dry
1 large white onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 large carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks
2 celery ribs, cut into 1-inch chunks
1/4 cup tomato paste
6 quarts cold water
1 bay leaf
5 fresh parsley sprigs
10 black peppercorns
1 cup dry red wine

1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
2. Heat the oil until it ripples in a large, nonreactive roasting pan set over high heat. Add the veal bones, onion, carrots, celery, and tomato paste and toss to combine. Roast in the oven, stirring occasionally, until the bones are golden brown on all sides, 45 to 60 minutes.
3. Transfer the bones and vegetables to a large, nonreactive stockpot. Add the water, bay leaf, parsley and peppercorns. Pour off and discard any excess fat from the roasting pan; place the roasting pan over medium heat. Add the wine to the pan to deglaze it, scraping up any browned bits and drippings that stick to the bottom. Add the wine mixture to the stockpot.
4. Bring the stock to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently until rich and flavorful, 4 to 6 hours. Skim off and discard
any foam that rises to the surface during cooking. Check the pot
occasionally to make sure the bones are always covered with water; add
more water if necessary.
5. Strain the stock through a fine mesh strainer or a double layer of dampened cheesecloth into a metal or heatproof glass container; discard the solids. Use immediately or let cool to room temperature. Skim off any fat that rises to the top. Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 week. Bring the stock to a rolling boil before using. To freeze the stock, divide among smaller containers, leaving about 1/2 inch of headspace. Cover, label, and date the containers. The stock can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Next make your demi-glace:

Place the stock in a large stockpot set over medium heat. Bring the stock to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat and simmer until the stock is reduced by half, 2 to 3 hours. From time to time, using a ladle, skim off any foam that appears on the top of the stock. This will prevent the demi-glace from becoming clouded.
Transfer the stock to a smaller saucepan and continue to simmer until the stock is reduced to a syrup, 1 to 2 hours longer.
Use immediately or let cool to room temperature. Divide the demi-glace into smaller portions (such as into an ice cube tray). Cover with plastic wrap and freeze until solid. Remove the cubes and wrap individually or place in a freezer bag. Cover, label, and date. Freeze for up to 6 months.

I have purchased store bought demi-glace, and used a couple other "shortcut" methods, but there is no comparison to the real thing. I found this recipe at a site called labellecuisine.com, and this demi-glace is the foundation to my world famous osso bucco.

Do not be intimidated, as the only hard part about this recipe is the time involved. It actually requires some serious planning for anyone with a day job, as the reduction process is pretty time consuming. Well worth the effort. The richness and concentration of flavors is fantastic!

PH
I like arrowroot best especially for clear sauces, but sometimes cornflour or plain flour work well.

Other thickening agents I've used to good effect have included mashed potato (just the spud not with the additives) and very finely shredded onion.

However if I've got heaps of time I'll use the natural gelatine from a pigs trotter or similar.
quote:
Originally posted by PurpleHaze:
And what the hell is a pigs trotter? Eek Or do I really want to know.... Confused

PH


Pigs trotters are uncooked pigs feet.
Ham Hocks are smocked pigs feet.

Their main use in cooking is that they have lot's of natural gelatin that can be extracted by a long slow cooking process. Ham Hocks have a stronger flavour.

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