Here is a common scenario. You are preparing a recipe that calls for a thick and rich “au jus“; unfortunately, your version is more liquid than it should. You wonder, “how can I fix this up?”
How to thicken au jus:
- First, try simmering longer, let it reduce, keeping it on the heat for a few minutes. If it doesn’t thicken as it cools, attempt #2 or #3.
- Mix cornstarch and cold water, add it, let it cook until it thickens up.
- Make a roux. Mix of equal parts melted butter and flour, then add and bring to a boil.
How Can I Thicken Au Jus Without Flour?
To thicken au jus without flour, take half a teaspoon of cornstarch and add it to some cold water. Then, stir the mixture little by little to obtain your desired consistency.
Keep in mind that this method can sometimes alter the flavor slightly. Be sure to taste it before serving to see if you need to make any corrections if the seasonings were diluted.
Healthy Tip: The cornstarch option is perfect for people following a gluten-free diet.
You can also use xanthan gum to thicken au jus. Do not add it until you have turned off the heat, and you only need to add a minute amount.
Should Au Jus be Thickened?
Au jus is meant to be a light and very thin sauce, so it is not intended to be thickened up. However, this is a personal preference as some people enjoy thicker au jus. However, too much thickener and it may end up more similar to a gravy than what it is supposed to be.
What Consistency Should Au Jus Be?
The consistency of an au jus should be thicker than water but thinner than tomato soup. This sauce is very simple and delicate and somehow velvety to the taste, and very rich. The consistency should be similar to a very light syrup, without the viscosity.
How to Correctly Prepare Au Jus
To make an easy au jus, we will need to follow the steps below; it will be simple and fast.
- The first thing you should do to get the au jus done is cook our meat. Once cooked, you have to remove the meat and turn the heat off.
- We have to add some water to the pan to deglaze it and stir to scratch all the bits from the pan by using a spatula, wooden spoon, or whisker.
- This is when we turn the heat back on to medium-low heat.
- Add more water, seasoning it with some salt and pepper if needed.
- We have to let this liquid simmer for some time while frequently stirring with a whisk or wooden spoon. I also use a rigid and flat silicon spatula that works perfectly for this.
- So we just let it cook until all flavors have been enhanced, and we get the right consistency, not thick but not watery.
The best way to thicken up the au jus is by making a roux and adding the sauce little by little to it. Roux is a paste made with equal parts of fat (butter) and flour.
If you want to make a roux, you must melt the butter in a pan and add the flour once it is completely melted and has a light golden color. Once you add the flour, stir until it becomes a uniform paste with a toasted almond-like smell. You can cook the roux a little longer to get a darker color if you make a dark au jus.
But if you don’t want to use any starch or flour, the best option is to let the au jus reduce with time over medium-low heat or use xanthan gum, which has a similar reaction as the gluten option.
Playing with Flavors
The sky is the limit here, and if you love to try out new flavors, there are some ways you can make things more interesting when making au jus. Here are some things that you could do:
- Replace the water with some wine, tequila, or vodka. Some even can use rum, depending on the final result they want to achieve.
- Use some juice; it could be passion fruit, lime, or orange.
- Adding some heavy cream can give it a twist.
- Adding herbs can give it a punch of flavor.
Substitutes for Au Jus
Probably my favorite part of the holidays is eating the leftovers. The remaining meat or drippings can be used to make lovely little treats, au jus being one of them.
However, if you don’t have any drippings or meat to use, you can still make au just with some commonly found items in the house. Here’s how:
- Use three to four tablespoons of beef stock powder or 1 to 2 Bouillon cubes.
- Add dry seasonings such as onion, parsley, pepper, and garlic powder to taste.
- Make a flour or cornstarch roux for slight thickening.
About Au Jus
Au jus is a French term that indicates that a dish should be served with its juices, most commonly meat dishes; it could also be used to talk about a broth made with any meat. Even though this is used more often for beef dishes, this sauce can also be made with chicken, pork, turkey, lamb… you name it.
In American cuisine, the au jus refers to a flavorful but light sauce you can dip your sandwich into. You can see a similar way of using the juices of the meat in Birria Tacos. In this delicious Mexican dish, they dip the tortilla into the au jus before heating it on the grill and then fill it up with meat, cheese, onion, and cilantro, served with more au jus to dip in your tacos.
Is Au Jus French for Gravy?
I know it could be confusing but let’s clear this out. Once you add a thickener agent to the au jus, it will end up being more like a gravy instead of a light sauce. Although these two could be used to dip food into them, au jus pairs better with meat, while gravy can be used to complement or be added to any kind of food like:
- Pasta sauce
- Shepherd’s pie
- Mashed potatoes
Au jus can be made by deglazing the leftover bits, adding some wine to the pan where you cooked the meat, and bringing it to a boil. On the other hand, gravy is made by adding broth or water to the au jus and thickening it with some thickening agent.
Variations of Au Jus
Even though every country has its culture and gastronomy, we love to try new things and travel to another country through food, so we try new dishes, and when we like something, we experiment with it. It could be to play around and get creative or just to adjust something to our taste or the dish we are making.
Au jus doesn’t get excluded from getting adjusted or modified just a little. For instance, in the United States, restaurants, chefs, and home cooks tend to transform the au jus to catch the senses of their customers, guests, and readers (for food bloggers) with their unique touch and flavors.
Au Jus recipes in the United States can include some interesting ingredients like Worcestershire sauce, sugar, garlic, carrots, and onions. Restaurants would often make au jus by just reducing liquid or adding powdered beef stock to create a more concentrated form. But at home, I recommend just combining the juices from the original meat with a bit of red wine to add more personality and body.
It sometimes happens, you follow the recipe word by word; you even bought a kitchen or food scale to measure every ingredient to the exact point, but somehow, whatever you were doing came up to be totally different from the expected result. I don’t know about you, but it has happened to me.
I hope this article has helped clear up what to do when your au jus is too thin.
Thanks for stoppin’ by!
For more, don’t miss Can I Substitute Cornmeal for Flour? (With 6 Alternatives).
Photo courtesy of Vranak, CC BY-SA 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
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