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Thread: Newbie question #1: thickening sauces and gravies? page

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    Judg's Avatar
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    Newbie question #1: thickening sauces and gravies?

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    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
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    Dr. Bork Bork's Avatar
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    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.
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    Judg's Avatar
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    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

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    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.
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    I use a little potato starch. But be careful, it has almost twice the thickening power per tablespoon of cornstarch.
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    Judg's Avatar
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    Quote 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?

    Quote 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

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    Quote 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
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    kmodell's Avatar
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    Thickening agents

    Quote 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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    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
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    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

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