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July 04, 2005

Sauce tips

Generally, when making savory sauces and gravies one uses flour. Add the butter or oil to the skillet or pan, then the flour (usually 1 T. per cup of liquid), and whisk vigorously to break it all up. Cook for 5-10 minutes and then add the liquid—a little at a time at first, to be sure the liquid is incorporated rather than lumpy. If the water is added all at once it is nearly impossible to beat out the lumps since they move around the whisk, rather than thru it. To quickly thicken such a sauce you might want to use Wondra (micro-pulverized flour) because it incorporates easily and cooks quickly.
For “shiny” sauces, for desserts and the like, use corn starch. Again use about 1 T. per cup of sauce. It isn’t usually cooked, as with flour, but added to the sauce and stirred till it thickens. Dilute it with 1-2 T. of tap water and be sure it is suspended before adding. Cook a minute or so and you will see it thicken.

For Wok cooking, pull the foodstuff up on the sides and let the liquid pool in the open bottom. Sprinkle in a little arrowroot and whisk it in quickly. It requires no cooking, so you can see the result immediately. Usually about ½ T per cup, but since the result is immediate, you can see what you are doing. If adding to a sauce, or to a stew to correct it-- thicken it--suspend the arrowroot in a little water, since you won’t be able to whisk it as easily.
In any case, once you “get the hang of it” you’ll know about how much to add.

Posted by The Curmudgeon at July 4, 2005 10:39 AM