Beurre Manié [bur man-yay], noun: A kneaded paste of butter and flour added to a soup or sauce toward the end of cooking in order to thicken.
If your dish is nearly done cooking and you feel that it's soupier than you'd like, a simple beurre manié can save the day. Here's how it works!
If you add flour straight into hot liquid, you just end up with a clumpy sauce, right? With a beurre manié, you prevent this from happening because the individual flour particles are coated with a bit of fat. The butter melts as you whisk the beurre manié into the sauce, releasing the flour evenly into the liquid to thicken. As an added bonus, the butter enriches whatever you're cooking!
To make one, just combine equal parts flour and soft butter - one to two tablespoons of each should do the trick. Work them briefly against the counter until you have a uniform paste. Add it into your soup or sauce and whisk until it has completely dissolved. Continue cooking for a few more minutes until the taste of raw flour has gone.
A beurre manié actually does the same job as a roux. A roux can lose its ability to thicken over long cooking periods, so you might choose to use a beurre manié instead if you're making a sauce from a long-cooked braise or planning to simmer your soup for a while. A beurre manié is also useful if you decide you want a thicker sauce at the last minute or if a sauce didn't thicken as much as you thought it would.
Either way, this is definitely a good trick to have in your pocket!
Related: From the Archives: All About Butter!
(Image: Flickr member Ben30 licensed under Creative Commons)