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Mar 3, 2012 10:01 AM

Thickening cream based sauce

I make a chicken breast stuffed with shrimp and salsa verde that I serve with a sauce. The sauce has cream, stock, chiptole, and white wine mainly.

The issue is if I make the sauce while the chicken cooks in the oven (I brown them first in a skillet on the stove top), I need a separate pan and I don't get the fond from the chicken. If I wait until the chicken is done, it takes too long to thicken the sauce (first, I sautee onion, garlic, then add white wine, then rest of liquids).

My question is should I thicken the cream while the chicken cooks to hasten the final sauce? I also thought about a roux, but this sauce is supposed to be somewhat loose...nothing like an alfredo. Roux aren't generally used with sauces with alcohol I think.

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  1. You can definitely reduce the cream ahead of time without harming the finished sauce.

    1. And maybe deglaze the chicken pan when the chicken is done, strain, save to a container, freeze, skim fat at time of use.

      1. alfredo sauce isn't roux-based.

        just reduce the sauce without fear. if you're browning the chicken, use the fat from that pan to begin the sauce. add your aromatics, wine and stock, and let all this bubble away. when the chicken is near to done, add the cream and let the heat get high enough so the mixture is bubbling. let it reduce. you want to evaporate water from the stock, the wine AND the cream. most people fear this and don't go far enough.

        1. If your need to thicken your sauce you should do it at the end and go easy. You want a nappe (nappe refers to either the ability of a liquid to "coat the back of a spoon" or the act of coating a food) not a thick glop.
          I prefer not to thicken my cream sauces by reduction because I find the result to be overly rich and sweet flavor of the cream destroyed. Potato starch is my first choice for the liaison but you could use a Beurre maniƩ, cornstarch, arrowroot or flour. As stated already the key is not to over do it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: chefj

            I like the idea of a Beurre maniƩ because it doesn't need to be cooked in advance like a roux and the butter will probably add a nice finish to the sauce. I think I will just go low on the quantity so it doesn't get too thick.

            1. re: splatgirl

              nice tie in with that other thread. Wondra would work great.