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Nov 14, 2010 11:12 AM

thickening jus


I am so weak in this department: I slow-braised a 3-lb. brisket in beer, have this wonderful liquid with the cooked down onions, balsamic, some beef stock, rosemary...but after I strain it, what is the best way to thicken it? Just a natural reduction on the stovetop, a slurry with flour/water or cornstarch/water? What should guide my course of action?


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  1. Yes, to all of your suggestions. Might also consider a butter and/or milk.

    Personally, I prefer my jus as is. Thickening it too much and you might as well go all the way and make gravy.

    1. The reduction sounds like your best option, but taste as you reduce. Any salt you used in the braising will be multiplied in the reduction so if it starts to get too salty, add back a bit of water and then just barely thicken it with a touch of cornstarch slurry. In the future, when you want to do a reduction, limit or omit the salt until you're through cooking, then season.

      1. You could puree the onions and use them as a thickener. I do not think that reduction will do since you started with broth and not stock.
        Beurre ManiƩ would be my first choice. It is very stable and does a good amount of enriching with out over thickening.
        There are a bunch of other ways to thicken but most of the rest will change the sauce quite a bit.
        Of course as ipsedixit said the other s will do as well. Just go slow(don't add too much at once) and let it return to a simmer after each addition.
        Potato Starch IMO is the preferred Slurry type thickener since it gelatinizes on contact with the hot liquid.

        5 Replies
        1. re: chefj

          Reduction will intensify the flavor. Doesn't matter whether it's stock or broth. But it may or may not thicken it. However, with a brisket, maybe it will thicken, maybe it won't, but for a more cartilaginous gel quality, I would simply dump in a couple of envelopes of Knox Gelatin. Or if it's for tomorrow, I'd dump some knuckle bones in the cooking liquid and let it simmer til morning. '-)

          1. re: Caroline1

            If the cook started with beer and beef stock, not veal stock, it will not thicken. Especially when removing the onions.
            As for using it as a base for a stock I am assuming the wink means you know that is pretty impractical.
            A liaison is definitely the way to go with a braised dish like this.

            1. re: chefj

              The wink was to indicate that should she want a gelatinous stock or to reduce it to the consistency of a demi-glace, she isn't going to get there without adding bones and cartilage, probably more liquid, hours of simmer time and maybe more complications. Yes. If she want(ed) a thicker sauce, she would have to find a way to accomplish that. One way is to add a thickener. Which one can be confusing without a lot of experience. Depending on the sides and the flavor of the cooking liquid, I might even use okra to thicken... '-) (The wink is to indicate there is more than one way to skin a cat.)

              1. re: Caroline1

                I agree there is almost always more than one way to do things.
                I am making an assumption that this is a Northern European type braise, similar to Carbonade Flamande. Thus my past advice against reduction and questioning the practicality of creating a gelatin rich stock.
                Now if it is Creole have at the Okra or Dark Roux ( - :

          2. re: chefj

            Second the motion for potato starch. Unlike flour or cornstarch it doesn't go lumpy if you just sprinkle it in while whisking; you don't even need to make a slurry. If you don't have any, it's at just about any natural-foods store and pretty cheap. Keep it dry in the fridge and it lasts forever, at least until you use it...

          3. Arrowroot avoids the floury taste in roux.

            2 Replies
            1. re: kaleokahu

              You have to be careful with arrowroot in hot liquids. It can overcook and go back to as watery as when you started. For that reason, I don't use it much any more. All I have to do to make the phone ring is add arrowroot to something, and it's watery by the time I hang up!

              1. re: Caroline1

                +1 on that Corn starch has the same problem just not stable enough, along with getting kind of gloopy.

            2. I vote for reduce and add butter unless you want a more gravy like sauce.