I'll try a different angle then, how about a sauce gravy thickener?

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ok no bites on the carne guisada so let me ask it this way. I'm curious what do you guys use to thicken the sauces and gravies without altering the flavor profile too much. I've used flour but have heard sometimes masa harina (for corn tortillas) is better or just corn starch. My aunt brougt some very fine powery stuff from England last year and it was great but we dont know what it was or where to get more.

any help appreciated

tnx
 
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potato starch, corn starch, xanthum gum, flour, all these will thicken a sauce. even just using cream and reducing it will thicken a sauce a bit.
 
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I don't know what your aunt gave you, but I use cornflour, tapioca flour and rice flour as thickeners.For clear sauces for puddings or for such as a cherry sauce for duck, I use arrowroot.
 
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Arrowroot doesn't have much taste, leaves the sauce clearer than most starch thickeners, and will bind a very acid sauce where corn-starch for instance wouldn't.  But it has it's limitations.  It won't hold up to heat, and is not durable over time.

BDL
 
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Each gravy and sauce uses different ingredients. The thickener required depends on what those are. In high acid sauces some will break down, on sauces held a while in steam table some  will break down due to heat. Some will make the product gummy.There are many thickeners used by commercial food companies that you do not have access to.Some are natural, some man made.

I would agree with BDL above that the best one for you may be Arrowroot Starch. Also there should be no guessing as to the amount of thickener as all are a matter of chemical balance.
 
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How about revealing some "chef" tricks?

The time that chefs made their own fonds is in the past for many of them, with a strong emphasis; not all of them.

Why? Like Ed said, unlike consumers, pro's have access to stuff made by Unilever (Knorr etc.) and others, specialized in the professional market. I assembled just a few of them in one picture. Most come from unileverfoodsolutions.com

The first 3 are professional market only.

- number one; fond in pasteform to dissolve in water, ready for use. Comes in buckets of 10 kg!

- number two; fonds in powder to dissolve in water. Packages of 1 kilo, to make around 15 liter of fond.

- number three; roux in granulate to easily thicken sauces

- number four; Maggi in very small packages of powdered fonds for the consumer market. Contains a thickener!!! Easy to reduce without getting too salty! To be added to sauces or to be dissolved before adding. Exists in veal, fish and chicken. I frequently use the veal! Works perfect for a hobbycook. I would simply recommend vealfond to all (if available in your country), it's a long job to make it. Chicken and fish fonds are easy to make yourself.

 
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Just one addition, Chris. Dry roux is available in retail quantities in some areas, such as Louisiana and other parts of the American Gulf Coast.

To me it just tastes like burnt flour, but some folks swear by it.
 
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KYH, I used a picture of brown roux, but Knorr makes also a plain roux. I hear from pro's that all these Knorr product are surprisingly good...

But, speaking of roux, and staying on topic, it surprises me that pro's around here don't mention "beurre manié" (I don't know an english translation, there probably isn't). It's still in use for thickening larger quantities of sauces, I used it frequently in the past. It's simply mixing together equal parts butter and flour without any cooking at all. When sauces are done, beurre manié was added a bit at a time to the simmering sauce. You have to cook the sauce for some time after adding it, to get rid of flourtaste.

Another question that popped in my head a few weeks ago, was when I watched a chef make a roux(butter and flour) on the stovetop as usual and transfer it to an oven, where it stayed untill it was lightly colored and -as he was looking for-  smelled like "biscuit" (not a cookie, the tart base). My question was wether it would be possible to make a similar roux, let it cool, put in a food processor to crumble, and use it like the commercial roux thickeners; simply sprinkle some of it in a sauce after the sauce's cooking time.
 
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Beurre manie used to be a fairly common thickener in the States, Chris, but rarely by professionals. It was mostly used by cookbook writers as a shortcut, for thickening things like stews more than sauces.

I suspect it fell in disfavor because when done correctly there is no real time savings. You have to knead the flour and dough to incorporate them well, add it in small chunks, and, as you say, cook it for some time to remove the raw flour taste. 

All that being the case, might as well start with a roux to begin with.

Of course, given the modern fashion, all of the starch-bound sauces are falling more and more into disfavor.
 
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Just one addition, Chris. Dry roux is available in retail quantities in some areas, such as Louisiana and other parts of the American Gulf Coast.

To me it just tastes like burnt flour, but some folks swear by it.
A jar of that works fine as a paperweight. I wouldn't let it anywhere near a pot, though.
 
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    Hi all,

      I don't normally think of using arrowroot as a thickener for a warm gravy, it doesn't hold long, it does not respond well to heat...or re-heating.  I'm just a little surprised to see the praises of arrowroot when discussing a warm gravy.  I suppose arrowroot does have the least amount of flavor...but it certainly comes with its set of problems.

   Quetex, it's a little difficult to offer up a suggestion for your perfect thickener when your preference will change with each dish (as others have said).  Why are you so focused on a tasteless thickening agent?  A light roux will have decent thickening power and hold up good too,  you do have to cook it a bit otherwise it will lend that raw flour taste.  The darker you take a roux the more complex the flavors get, but it also loses its thickening powers as it gets darker.  Cornstarch does well too...it thickens nicely while offering a decent hold to the warm gravy.  It can taste a bit "starchy" if it isn't cooked at all...but it can take some decent heat while cooking.  Just don't push it too far with heat or stirring or it can become thin...but it doesn't offer up too much flavor.

    There are certainly other things that can be used as thickeners but they have their own characteristics.  I don't know...sometimes a roux fits the flavor profiles quite well.  Other times an egg yolk may be nice...or butter...or cream...or....

     dunno

  dan
 
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makes sense gonefishing and  all. Yes realise now it depends on what your making. Guess I just like the natural taste of the meat instead of the flour. Looks like I have a lot to learn.
 
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My question was wether it would be possible to make a similar roux, let it cool, put in a food processor to crumble, and use it like the commercial roux thickeners; simply sprinkle some of it in a sauce after the sauce's cooking time.
Quite possible indeed, but rather than the food processor, which might cause some issue with crumbling due to the friction creating heat, I would recommend leaving it in block form and than when it is time to use it, use a cheese grater right over your sauce for beautiful shaved roux bits that incorporate beautifully.
 
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Chris!

Knorr makes a fine commercial line of products as does Louis Minor, and a company called Custom Bases in Jersey. They have both low ball priced bases and extra pricey depending on what quality you want.  When I served my apprenticeship we cooked plain flour in a 325 oven and made a blonde flour for blond roux and a browned flour for brown roux. The chef told us take out the brown one when it smells like Hazelnuts. The both flours were cooled and placed in bins for making the roux s later.  It shortened cooking time of some sauces. I have not seen this done in over 30 years. The great part of it was not only speed but you never tasted undercooked roux. Sysco Corp. handles a thickener or modified food starch that can be sprinkled out of a shaker for hot liquids and they make a thickener for cold foods. Neither are for gourmet cooking , but they do work. Manie butter was NOT made on the spot> It was pre-maid and rolled in parchment paper and kept in fridge until it was needed .A few slices were cut off into whatever sauce you wanted to thicken.

I tried a sample of a chicken base a few weeks ago, that I could not tell the difference between a home-cooked one and this lab made one.  Their is a flavor manufacturer on Jersey Turnpike that I once went to with an ACF group . The man running the place would ask ''want to smell or taste any thing in food? If you gave him what you waned to taste, he would take a small numbered  bottle from a shelf  and open it. Put an eye dropper in it and put a drop on your finger. Lets say you told him A Big  Mac ? Well low and behold thats what you would taste and smell. We all agreed at that time, that yes this was the future of the food business. That was in the early 80s sure enough it came to be.
 
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Define "fonds" please.  I've only heard "fond" used to describe the particles stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking.  It sounds as though you're referring to thickening agents.
 
How about revealing some "chef" tricks?

The time that chefs made their own fonds is in the past for many of them, with a strong emphasis; not all of them.
 
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Knorr, Louis Minor and Custom Bases make great Commercial Bases and Roux s. I recently had a sample of a new low salt chick base that will soon be out. I could not tell the difference between it  and our house made fresh one. Needless to say I was impressed.  Manni butter used to be made in advance and rolled in parchment paper in fridge> When needed, a piece was cut off and used to thicken sauce  Flour used to be toasted and colored in a 325 oven till blond and brown then cooled and stored in bins till a roux was to be made. You cooked it till it smelled like roasting hazelnuts not burned. It quickened the making of the final roux and assured the flour taste was out and not burned. Putting an already made roux in oven is a little more chancey 
 
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Define "fonds" please.  I've only heard "fond" used to describe the particles stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking.  It sounds as though you're referring to thickening agents.
gobblygook, in French, "fond" means "stock" (or sometimes broth or jus).
 
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Define "fonds" please.  I've only heard "fond" used to describe the particles stuck to the bottom of the pan after cooking.  It sounds as though you're referring to thickening agents.
gobblygook, in French, "fond" means "stock" (or sometimes broth or jus).
Fond in french means base or foundation

in cooking  terms Fond the the goodness that is left stuck to the pan after sauteeing/roasting

fonds refers to the principal foundation stocks and sauces used in all french based cuisine

fonds of chicken would be Chicken stock  one of the principal ingriedients in cooking

fond from chicken would be the bits and peaces and left in the pan after roasting or sauteing 

using french terms is stupid sometimes, just like the english languages that pillages these words to make understanding english 10,000 times harder , but pillaging these words is easier than making up our own i guess
 
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