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Newbie question #1: thickening sauces and gravies?

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  • Newbie question #1: thickening sauces and gravies?

    If flour and cornstarch are no-no's, what do we use? Now that I'm back to eating more meat, I'm going to want to make the occasional gravy and there are one or two family favourites involving sauces that I'd like to "primalize". I think I saw a recipe somewhere around here that used powdered arrowroot. How does that compare taste-wise? And does it thicken sauces effectively?
    5'2", 55 years, Primal since April. Pre-Primal weight loss, from 216.6 to 157.8
    Primal low: 140.2 (Dec. 3) Goal weight: 135?
    Main Primal goal: beating back my CFS enough to function more normally and start writing again

    More and more, our life has been governed by specialists, who know too little of what lies outside their province to be able to know enough about what takes place within it.
    - Lewis Mumford

  • #2
    arrowroot powder or tapioca starch
    you should be able to find both at most grocery stores these days. I know they are readily available for me at Macy's, Walmart, Harmons, and several health food stores.

    I got my non-Primal mom to use arrowroot while she was here to thicken the stew she was making, and she said she noticed a difference, but I didn't.
    --Trish (Bork)
    TROPICAL TRADITIONS REFERRAL # 7625207
    http://pregnantdiabetic.blogspot.com
    FOOD PORN BLOG! http://theprimaljunkfoodie.blogspot.com

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    • #3
      Thanks Dr. BB. I've added them to my shopping list. I just went this morning, but as I read I keep adding things to next week's list. It's already getting long, LOL.
      5'2", 55 years, Primal since April. Pre-Primal weight loss, from 216.6 to 157.8
      Primal low: 140.2 (Dec. 3) Goal weight: 135?
      Main Primal goal: beating back my CFS enough to function more normally and start writing again

      More and more, our life has been governed by specialists, who know too little of what lies outside their province to be able to know enough about what takes place within it.
      - Lewis Mumford

      Comment


      • #4
        I thicken almost all sauces with egg yolks, or dijon mustard. Mustard has amazing thickening properties, and gives many sauces a delicious zing! Eggs yolks work really well for all creamy sauces, alfredo, carbonara (traditionally made with egg yolk!), even a cheddar cheese sauce that groklings go wild for!

        As for gravy, I've been using tapioca starch. I use less, keep the gravy thinner, more like an au jus these days. Usually the beef drippings, some beef broth, red wine, thyme, salt and pepper. I whisk in a bit of the tapioca mixed with a bit more beef broth, let it thicken a bit and then taste and serve.
        The more I see the less I know for sure.
        -John Lennon

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        • #5
          I use a little potato starch. But be careful, it has almost twice the thickening power per tablespoon of cornstarch.
          __________________________
          age 56, type 2 diabetes, swimmer
          low carb since 2006 thanks to Jenny, primal since Jan. 2012

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by lil_earthmomma View Post
            I thicken almost all sauces with egg yolks, or dijon mustard. Mustard has amazing thickening properties, and gives many sauces a delicious zing! Eggs yolks work really well for all creamy sauces, alfredo, carbonara (traditionally made with egg yolk!), even a cheddar cheese sauce that groklings go wild for!

            As for gravy, I've been using tapioca starch. I use less, keep the gravy thinner, more like an au jus these days. Usually the beef drippings, some beef broth, red wine, thyme, salt and pepper. I whisk in a bit of the tapioca mixed with a bit more beef broth, let it thicken a bit and then taste and serve.
            Yum. I had no idea Dijon could thicken things. Love that stuff. I will have to try that when the taste is appropriate. I knew about egg yolks, but have never tried them for this purpose. Do they go in right at the end of the cooking process?

            Originally posted by Pamsc View Post
            I use a little potato starch. But be careful, it has almost twice the thickening power per tablespoon of cornstarch.
            Thanks Pam. I'll keep my eyes open for this too.

            I've been cooking for 40 years and there's still so much to learn...
            5'2", 55 years, Primal since April. Pre-Primal weight loss, from 216.6 to 157.8
            Primal low: 140.2 (Dec. 3) Goal weight: 135?
            Main Primal goal: beating back my CFS enough to function more normally and start writing again

            More and more, our life has been governed by specialists, who know too little of what lies outside their province to be able to know enough about what takes place within it.
            - Lewis Mumford

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by lil_earthmomma View Post
              even a cheddar cheese sauce that groklings go wild for!
              Can you share your recipe? Mine never works quite right
              Thread-killer extraordinaire
              My journal
              Primal since 3/10/12 - removed lap band 5/11/12
              207/186/160

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              • #8
                Thickening agents

                Originally posted by jes1014 View Post
                Can you share your recipe? Mine never works quite right
                Hi,

                I think we need one of the Paleo experts to speak up. I was under the inpression that potatos and potato starch, tapiocca starch and arrowroot starch were not Paleo. Are they?

                Thanks,
                Karen

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                • #9
                  I read that they cause insulin spikes that are worse than bread (from Wheat Belly) so I haven't used my tapioca starch since... I agree that we need an expert to weigh in. I miss gravy and would like to attempt a white sauce (how? without flour???).
                  Primal since March 5, 2012
                  SW: 221 | CW: 204 | LPW: 166 | UGW: 140 (80 lbs loss)



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                  • #10
                    I have used arrowroot and have not noticed any taste difference.

                    I ran a few potential thickeners through PaleoTracker. For the comparison, I used one tablespoon:

                    Arrowroot flour: 28.6 calories, 7.1g of carbs
                    Wheat flour, white, all-purpose, enriched, bleached: 28.4 calories, 6g of carbs
                    Potato flour: 35.7, 8.3g of carbs

                    Using Google (if it is on the internet, it must be true!) I confirmed that tapioca starch, arrowroot flour and potato flour are gluten free.

                    I think one of the practical advantages of using alternative thickeners versus flour is that you don't have to have traditional flour in the pantry and therefore eliminate it as a choice, especially for those moments of weakness. For example, I have never seen a recipe for tapioca starch cookies, but I have seen a million cookie recipes for wheat based cookies. Not in the pantry equals not using it and in the case of wheat, that is a good thing!
                    Kevin

                    Human beings, by changing the inner attitudes of their minds, can change the outer aspects of their lives.
                    William James
                    US Pragmatist philosopher & psychologist (1842 1910)

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by kmodell View Post
                      Hi,

                      I think we need one of the Paleo experts to speak up. I was under the inpression that potatos and potato starch, tapiocca starch and arrowroot starch were not Paleo. Are they?

                      Thanks,
                      Karen
                      For Mark's take see: Are Potatoes Paleo? | Mark's Daily Apple and http://www.marksdailyapple.com/potat...#axzz1sbNOFg7d . Potatoes do not have the issues that grains have, but they are still very high carb (and they are nightshades for people who are sensitive). However, if the only objection is that they are high carb, using a little potato starch for thickening would only matter if you are eating very low carb.
                      __________________________
                      age 56, type 2 diabetes, swimmer
                      low carb since 2006 thanks to Jenny, primal since Jan. 2012

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Right now I'll settle for gluten-free. I don't plan on making sauces often, and let's face it, the amounts involved are pretty small anyway. A tablespoon or two in a meal for several people is not that big a deal, even if it is flour, but I'd like to avoid grains altogether if I can. Still, the more people who chime in the better.

                        Karen, technically speaking, the Primal Blueprint is not pristine Paleo anyway, and doesn't claim to be. Which is one of the reasons I'm listening to it. I'm more interested in practical results than conforming to a code. I want to avoid grains because I think they could very well be causing me major problems, and I'd like to flush my system completely to find out. I am also avoiding starches as much as possible, but a little bit here and there from non-grain sources is not the end of the world. At least not for me. I like Mark's balanced, mostly non-doctinaire approach, and the amount of flour that goes into making the occasional sauce probably doesn't matter that much anyway. But if there's a better way of doing things, I'll take it. And arrowroot is definitely not a grain, even if it is a starch. Ditto for potatoes. I will probably not be making a humongous potato salad anytime soon, but small amounts here and there taken with other foods falls into the moderation category, it seems to me.
                        5'2", 55 years, Primal since April. Pre-Primal weight loss, from 216.6 to 157.8
                        Primal low: 140.2 (Dec. 3) Goal weight: 135?
                        Main Primal goal: beating back my CFS enough to function more normally and start writing again

                        More and more, our life has been governed by specialists, who know too little of what lies outside their province to be able to know enough about what takes place within it.
                        - Lewis Mumford

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          eh, I still want a good cheese sauce that may not be strictly primal but my kid will eat
                          Thread-killer extraordinaire
                          My journal
                          Primal since 3/10/12 - removed lap band 5/11/12
                          207/186/160

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                          • #14
                            Hi! So sorry I've been away from my computer!

                            Ok, about the egg thickened sauces, add them in at the end. Egg yolks whisked together poured into a VERY low heat liquid. You don't want to curdle the eggs. Whisk continually, and adjust the heat up in very small increments if it isn't thickening. Keep whisking and it will thicken and you'll have lovely white sauce, or cheese sauce, or any sauce you can imagine really!

                            As for my grokling endorsed cheese sauce:

                            I basically start with milk and cream (maybe 1 cup milk, 2 cup cream?), and let it come to a simmer (for grown up sauce I add some minced garlic, onion and pepper). Once simmering, I turn down the heat quite a bit and add 6 whisked egg yolks. Whisk until thickened.

                            Then add the secret kraft dinner ingredient that makes every kid think of that lil blue box! A drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Not much, just a tsp or 2. It should have this hint of sweetness that is so prevelant with boxed cheese sauces. Trust me.

                            Then add in the grated cheese (I usually use sharp cheddar and something creamy like havarti or even a bit of cream cheese). Once that is combined nicely, serve.

                            As for white sauces, alfredos etc, look up carbonara. My carbonara sauce didn't change at all, it was already completely primal, I just had to swap noodles for portobello mushroom strips. Mmmm!
                            The more I see the less I know for sure.
                            -John Lennon

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by lil_earthmomma View Post
                              Hi! So sorry I've been away from my computer!

                              Ok, about the egg thickened sauces, add them in at the end. Egg yolks whisked together poured into a VERY low heat liquid. You don't want to curdle the eggs. Whisk continually, and adjust the heat up in very small increments if it isn't thickening. Keep whisking and it will thicken and you'll have lovely white sauce, or cheese sauce, or any sauce you can imagine really!

                              As for my grokling endorsed cheese sauce:

                              I basically start with milk and cream (maybe 1 cup milk, 2 cup cream?), and let it come to a simmer (for grown up sauce I add some minced garlic, onion and pepper). Once simmering, I turn down the heat quite a bit and add 6 whisked egg yolks. Whisk until thickened.

                              Then add the secret kraft dinner ingredient that makes every kid think of that lil blue box! A drizzle of maple syrup or honey. Not much, just a tsp or 2. It should have this hint of sweetness that is so prevelant with boxed cheese sauces. Trust me.

                              Then add in the grated cheese (I usually use sharp cheddar and something creamy like havarti or even a bit of cream cheese). Once that is combined nicely, serve.

                              As for white sauces, alfredos etc, look up carbonara. My carbonara sauce didn't change at all, it was already completely primal, I just had to swap noodles for portobello mushroom strips. Mmmm!
                              Thank you!!!
                              Thread-killer extraordinaire
                              My journal
                              Primal since 3/10/12 - removed lap band 5/11/12
                              207/186/160

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