What is the culinary definition of “liaison”?

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The broad culinary definition of a liaison is simply any mixture intended to be used as a thickener.  However, it is also the name of a specific type of liaison, where eggs are used to thicken rather than the usual starch.

This kind of liaison is a mixture of egg yolks and cream (or other liquid) added to sauces & soups as they’re finishing cooking.  As the eggs gently cook, their proteins coagulate and tighten, thickening and adding richness to the dish.  The temperature of the liquid that the liaison is going into shouldn’t be too high, or you’ll get scrambled eggs.  In order to protect against this happening, liaisons are frequently tempered into dishes.

Other Types of Liaisons:
Beurre Manie

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