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Sauces and gravies made simple

Updated: May 31, 2012 02:00 PM EDT
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By Kellie Evans

Beurre manié is one of the best ways to thicken a sauce or a soup, period.

This fancy-sounding mixture—it means kneaded butter in French—is incredibly simple to make and equally easy to use.

Just rub enough flour into softened butter to make a thick paste; then whisk in little bits of the paste to finish a pan sauce for, say, shrimp scampi or a roast turkey, or to enrich a seafood chowder. 

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As the butter melts, it separates and evenly disperses the flour particles, which swell and thicken the liquid.

The result: a lustrous, velvety texture with nary a clump. Once a technique that was employed by professional and home cooks, unfortunately, this smart kitchen trick is rarely seen anymore. We think it's time to revive it. 

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How to Do It:

Simply mix equal parts of softened butter and flour together in a small bowl, and use your fingers or a fork to form a smooth paste.

Then roll teaspoon-size amounts of the paste into balls. (You can also make large amounts of beurre manié in a food processor and store the balls in the freezer, bringing them to room temperature before use.) 

When simmering a sauce, whisk in one ball at a time as needed. Allow the mixture to return to a boil, and cook for at east 1 minute to thicken.

If your sauce is not as thick as you'd like, add a bit more beurre manié. The butter-coated flour particles will melt and quickly thicken the sauce as it simmers, and the additional butter will add a sleek luster, similar to the effect of mounting a sauce with cold butter. 

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