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Old 07-03-2007, 09:39 PM   #1
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Cream sauce thickener question

Hey everybody, I'm new on the forum, and kinda a beginner cook ... anway, I tried this recipe for a roasted garlic cream sauce the other day, which required roasted garlic, milk, flour, and butter .... i didn't have any flour, and don't use flour enough where i thought it neccessary to buy a whole thing of flour, but i did have cornstarch because i use it to thicken my sauce for filipino adobo chicken ... knowing it works for that, i looked up online and saw that cornstarch can work for other sauces as well, but when i added it to the roasted garlic, milk, and butter, i got these clear big clumps and the rest of the sauce didn't seem to thicken more. the cornstarch i used was pretty fine, it wasn't clumpy, and it works fine when i add it to my filipino adobo sauce (which mainly consists of soy sauce and vinegar).

sorry for the drawn out explaination, but basically my question is - am i doing something wrong or is cornstarch just not suitable for cream sauces?

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Old 07-03-2007, 09:45 PM   #2
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I don't know if I have an exact answer for you. Did you make a slurry with the cornstarch? If you didn't you probably should have and as you drizzle in the cream sauce whisk constantly. If you can get your hands on some arrowroot it is a wonderful thickener, but again, a slurry is needed.

It sounds like your cornstarch turned into cornstarch dumplings!

Your adobo sauce is much thinner, which may make a difference - the cream sauce I would say takes a slurry.

These are hunches, not known facts.
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Old 07-03-2007, 09:56 PM   #3
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I agree with what Kitchenelf said about the slurry. The other thing I would add is that you would need to bring the sauce up to a boil for the corn starch to get to its full thickening potential.
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Old 07-03-2007, 10:00 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GB
I agree with what Kitchenelf said about the slurry. The other thing I would add is that you would need to bring the sauce up to a boil for the corn starch to get to its full thickening potential.
Oh, I forgot about bringing to a boil. Yes, and when it starts to cool is when it thickens.
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Old 07-04-2007, 01:39 AM   #5
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beginner cook here

ahh ... i'm a bit of a novice, what do you mean by making a slurry? I remember what it means in junior high science class, but don't really know how to apply it to cooking.
thanks for the feedback!
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Old 07-04-2007, 02:35 AM   #6
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A slurry is a mixture of cornstarch and cold liquid, beit water, wine, stock, etc. Basic ratio would be 1 part cornstarch for every 2 parts of liquid. Combine well, then whisk into your sauce near the end to finish. Like the others have noted, the slurry needs to come to a boil to reach its full thickening properties. However, prolonged heat will also cause the slurry to lose its thickening power which is why it needs to be added near the end of the cooking process.

Regarding your question, it's because of the differences in viscocity and pH levels in both the cream base and the vinegar base. Acids weaken the thickening power of cornstarch, and this also works against the starch's chemical bond. The vinegar enabled the cornstarch to dissipate rather than clump.
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Old 07-04-2007, 03:54 PM   #7
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Hi,

I always use cornstarch to thicken my cream sauces. I put equal amounts of cold (must be cold) water and cornstarch and mix it so the cornstarch has dissolved in the water. Then add it to the boiling liquid and mix it in. It has never clumped up.

If you add it directly I think it does clump up which is why you need the slurry because the cornstarch is already dissolved.

Hope that helps.
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Old 07-04-2007, 04:50 PM   #8
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nanobabes,
Looks like you are making Mornay sauce with garlic instead of cheese and mixing all ingredients at once. For best results, melt the butter on med heat (SS pan) and when starts foaming, incorporate the flour and mix for up to 2 minutes ensuring the mix doesn't turn brown (burnt). Add the milk (boiling point) mixing constantly to dissolve all lumps or use a hand blender for a more vigorous mixing, cover the pot to reduce splashing. Add salt, pepper and roasted garlic. If I were you, I'd use flour instead of corn starch since it has less binding and the sauce will result less clumpy... or experiment with a slurry as several indicated. Good luck !
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Old 07-05-2007, 11:34 AM   #9
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Bechemel sauce reqires flour. A small bag can be kept in the freezer for a long time.

But ...IMO the best way to make a cream sauce without flour is to use cream, not milk and reduce it.

I would not use cornstarch in a sauce like this.
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Old 07-12-2007, 12:36 PM   #10
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thanks everyone for the responses, you guys have been most helpful =)
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