How A Simple Beurre Manié Mixture Will Help Thicken Your Sauces

Suddenly, amateur sauciers aren't looking so amateur anymore. Introducing Beurre Manié: the Swiss army knife of improvisational sauce-making. If you two aren't already acquainted, you'll want to keep this one on you at all times.

"Beurre Manié" is French for "kneaded butter," and that's pretty much exactly what this tried-and-true two-ingredient mixture is. It's a paste-like substance made from equal parts butter and flour, similar to a roux. Like roux, Beurre Manié can rescue any thin pan sauce. The difference is that to make a Beurre Manié, no cooking is necessary.

Scientifically, it's a culinary one-two punch. The starch in the flour absorbs the excess water, causing it to enlarge and thicken up the runny sauce. But, the infamous hamartia in using flour as a thickening agent in sauces is the clumps ... right? Not with Beurre Manié. The butter leaps in off the top rope, delivering a People's Elbow of rich flavor and even flour dispersion that results in a velvety, glistening texture, clump-free. Here's how to pull off this thrifty, classic chef's ace in the hole.

Mash and combine butter and flour for an easily incorporated ingredient

Beurre Manié may have a fancy-sounding name, but it's actually simple to throw together. To make a quick and effective Beurre Manié, cut a few tablespoons of soft butter into 1 to 2-inch cubes and toss them in some flour in a mixing bowl until thoroughly coated. Then, whisk the flour-butter chunks into your sauce one at a time until it starts thickening up to your desired viscosity.

After adding one clump of Beurre Manié, let your sauce return to a boil and cook for at least a full minute to incorporate before deciding whether to toss in another clump. You could also manually knead the butter and flour together by hand to help it incorporate more smoothly. This might be an especially useful technique when making sauces that are cooked at a lower temperature, as the butter might not melt as quickly and could benefit from a helping hand (literally).

From there, use this secret finishing move to tighten up any sauce and bring the dish together. It's a great tool for rescuing Béchamel, Hollandaise, or any of the other French mother sauces, but the uses for Beurre Manié are really only limited by your imagination. Your Alfredo, clam chowder, shrimp scampi, sausage biscuits and gravy, and remoulade are about to look a whole lot more sophisticated.