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I NEED HELP THICKENING A SAUCE!!

j
jono37 Jul 21, 2007 08:05 PM

Tomorrow night I am serving chiles en nogada to my girlfriend, who will be coming home after a two week absence. I am going all out... homemade tortillas, black bean puree, strawberry tart.

The chiles en nogada is an interesting chile relleno recipe that mixes the sweet and savory. The sauce on top is a dairy sauce which I have just made according to the recipe. It contains milk, farmer cheese, walnuts, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and sugar.

Unfortunately, although I followed the recipe to the letter, the sauce really is too thin... it is no different in consistency than milk. I want it to be thicker so that it will coat the chiles rather than just spill off of them.

Question: how do I thicken this sauce? I thought about adding flour or heating it with cornstarch, tapioca or arrowroot, but it seems like all of these will add an off flavor, although I'm not sure about that. I also thought about heating the liquid gently to evaporate water, but this doesn't seem like it would work.

Any experienced cooks out there who can help me?

Thanks a million!!

  1. j
    jono37 Jul 23, 2007 07:36 AM

    SUCCESS!!

    I picked up on two of the recommendations on this board: I added one egg, then whisked over gentle heat, and then I added some cornstarch. After cooling, the sauce was thickened slightly; I served it at room temperature. I think that the thickness was just right; the sauce did cling to the peppers, but was not at all dense or custardy. Thanks a lot!!!!

    BTW, the chiles en nogada was a delicious dish. I will note, however, that it is not possible to stuff poblano peppers after they've been roasted and peeled, since they just sort of fall apart. I had to just lay the peppers down and sort of place the filling on top the best I could, which was fine. Next time I might try stuffing them without pre-roasting and peeling.

    One final other point. I served a black bean puree on quinoa, which was great, but when I pureed the black beans they changed from black to purple. I recently had a black been puree in a Mexican restaurant which was still nice and black in color. I'm not sure what I could have done differently except to add some sort of coloring, perhaps squid ink.

    Thanks again for all the tips.

    2 Replies
    1. re: jono37
      chef chicklet Jul 23, 2007 07:53 AM

      Would you mind para phrasing your recipe for the chili rellenos and beans? I love rellenos. Last time I made rellenos the same thing happened to me causing me to then just "fold" the chili over the stuffing/ the next time I won't "cook" the chili just char the outside.

      1. re: jono37
        Romanmk Jul 23, 2007 12:00 PM

        The chiles are delicate, but if they are falling apart the flesh may be overcooked. To keep poblanos intact: Roast over your highest gas flame or charcoal fire for 5 or 6 minutes to blacken the skin, let them sit for in a bowl covered with a kitchen towel to finish cooking. Peel and stuff.
        Black beans will stay black for soup if you add 1/8th teaspoon baking soda to the pot (when cooking from dry beans.)

      2. chef chicklet Jul 22, 2007 09:15 AM

        What about quickly whisking in an egg. Like a custard, it would thicken, unless you would not want that but since you mention it is a take off of a chile relleno, it should work well for you/ Add it first to the cooled mix then whisk as you heat, like a custard.

        1. mrbozo Jul 22, 2007 08:19 AM

          I would use heavy cream and reduce until the desired consistency is reached. But this may deviate from the intended nature of the sauce as it will lighten its colour and add an element of richness.

          2 Replies
          1. re: mrbozo
            t
            Texchef Jul 22, 2007 08:23 AM

            I vote for corn starch or simply cooking the sauce longer at a low temp to reduce it

            1. re: mrbozo
              e
              ekammin Jul 22, 2007 08:25 AM

              Take about a tablespoon of flour and add a little of the sauce to it. Mix until the flour is dissolved, and you get a smooth paste. Add this to the sauce itself slowly, stirring constantly with a whisk. This should thicken the sauce without changing the taste.

            2. Romanmk Jul 22, 2007 01:01 AM

              The recipe I checked from Rick Bayless has white bread for a thickener (crusts removed) blended in with the rest of the sauce ingredients. Two cups walnuts, one slice white bread, 1 1/2 cups milk, and 1/2 cup cream plus seasonings. Cornstarch or flour needs to be cooked in order for the starches to gelatinize and thicken a sauce. He does not cook the sauce in the recipe, just runs it through the blender.

              1. a
                another_adam Jul 21, 2007 11:03 PM

                Heating it to cook off liquid would work eventually, but takes a lot of time and patience (and runs the risk of scorching the milk, and making the end result too sweet, depending on the proportions).

                I often use potato or rice flour for thickening when I want a more neutral flavor than wheat flour or corn starch. Just dissolve a bit in the too-thin sauce (when it's cold, to avoid lumps), and whisk some into your sauce and heat to just barely boiling, stirring constantly, so it thickens.

                1. paulj Jul 21, 2007 09:28 PM

                  The recipes that I see on line either use a small amount of evaporated milk, or melted cream and goat cheeses. Others use a mixture of heavy cream and sour cream, thinned just a bit with milk.
                  paulj

                  1. a
                    Anne H Jul 21, 2007 08:33 PM

                    Yeah, I would probably go the cornstarch route if it was me.

                    1. widehomehi Jul 21, 2007 08:31 PM

                      Powdered potatoes can work and taste is pretty good,thats what I use when I'm lazy or if i'm out of corn starch or flour.Roux sounds like an ok option.

                      1. t
                        torty Jul 21, 2007 08:30 PM

                        I really do not think a little cornstarch would affect the taste. I find arrowroot sometimes to have a metallic twang. So really easy. Sounds like a great meal.

                        1. j
                          JCap Jul 21, 2007 08:10 PM

                          Would a roux do the trick? Take equal parts butter and flour. Heat in a saucepan, cook out the raw flour taste, and then add the sauce a bit at time until everything is incorporated. Bring to a boil, then cool. Any mac and cheese recipe will also explain the technique. By the way, the recipe sounds very interesting, wish I wasn't starting the South Beach diet tomorrow! Best of luck...

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