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Jan 15, 2008 12:38 PM

improve this recipe ...

I just tried a recipe from a Dave Lieberman "Dinners" cookbook that I got as a gift. The recipe is for chicken thighs over pasta with a creamy sauce. It tasted terrific, but the sauce turned out much thinner than the picture ... it was essentially soup. Can you help me fix this?
To paraphrase the important ingredients from the recipe: you mix 1/4 cup flour in with your sauteed vegetables, then add 1 qt broth, 1 cup wine, 1 cup cream (along with a bunch of other ingredients) and simmer for 2 hours.

What is the best way to make this sauce actually creamy? Things I have considered:

- cut the broth in half (that would make less soup, but would it thicken?)
- add more flour (but wouldn't that give it a flour taste?)
- after cooking, remove chicken, turn up heat, and add something crazy like arrowroot or cornstarch and water mixture until thickened (this seems kind of brute-force but I guess it would work).

Someone here surely understands the chemistry involved, so I won't have to throw darts as to the best method ...

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  1. I suspect that the quart of broth was a typo in this recipe. I'd cut it down to 2 cups or even less.

    The only other thing you might try is to strain out the solids and boil the liquids down until reduced by half... but be careful this would concentrate the flavors - including any salt in the recipe.

    Hope that helps - good luck!

    1 Reply
    1. re: mimilulu

      you know, I think you're right about the typo. There was an astonishing amount of extra "sauce" in comparison to the 1 lb of pasta called for. The flavor was good, and the baby loved it (god bless him, we are the only meat eaters in our house) so it is well worth tinkering with. thanks!

    2. I don't claim any special knowledge of the underlying chemistry, but I might be tempted to "brute force" it into gravy form with a butter-flour roux.

      After cooking, remove chicken and veggies from the liquid, strain the liquid, make an amount of roux appropriate to the amount of liquid, then slowly stir the liquid into the roux and cook (while stirring) until sauce/gravy reaches the desired consistency.

      I also wonder if beginning with stock instead of broth might minimize the need for additional thickening.

      2 Replies
      1. re: hohokam

        sounds good. but say, is there a difference between broth and stock? I was not aware. I used the boxed kind such as you find at Whole Foods.

        1. re: mstrimel

          In general...meat stocks are the result of long slow simmering of bones and connective tissue, while broth comes from a shorter simmering of meaty parts (e.g., a whole chicken).

          Stock, again in general, will have a richer mouth feel than broth because of the gelatin that comes from long slow cooking of the cartilage and such. Of course, broth made with bone-in parts will likely have some gelatin in it, but not as much as stock.

          Chicken broth will, in general, taste more "chicken-y" than chicken stock due to the higher ratio of meat to bone used in making broth as compared to making stock.

          The more I look at the details you gave, the more I think the recipe must be wrong in ways that other posters have identified (large volume of liquid, long cooking time).

          Have fun tinkering!

      2. Sequence ?

        Try: saute the flour with veggies long enough to toast the flour, add cream, and let cream come to a fast simmer, will turn into a paste (pudding texture?), then add balance of liquids.

        But, I don't understand simmering a cream sauce for 2 hours.

          1. re: pikawicca

            My first instinct would be to ask Dave directly via his website. On occasion I've needed to clarify a recipe and my experience has been that they are happy to help out. That would be my route. I checked his website and it seems pretty user friendly and welcoming. Check out

          2. thanks everyone, great ideas!
            For the record, I think the cooking time was OK (well, I reduced it to an hour and 45 minutes). The result was nice poached juicy chicken, and to my susprise the sauce did not curdle. I did a pretty fast simmer.
            I will see if I can get Dave's view on this :)

            1 Reply
            1. re: mstrimel

              Great, please report back. I am curious to hear his response.