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Old 03-22-2007, 11:31 AM   #1
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Favorite thickener

What's y'all's favorite thickener? My stews are not standing up as thick as they should be. Do you use a standard formula of Tbs. per quart? I've been using flour or cornstarch but I do have a box of potato starch I'm thinking of trying.

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Old 03-22-2007, 11:39 AM   #2
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I myself prefer flour, to me it reheat better than cornstarch. I just take a small juice glass put a couple T flour in it add maybe 1/4 cup water. Then add gradually till the thickness I want.
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:46 AM   #3
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Here's a really odd one, but for soups and stews it works:
instant potato flakes!

I also like to use "wondra".
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:51 AM   #4
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wow, that`s SUCH an open question I can`t really give a Single answer, I`ll use anything from Corn flour for gravys or oats for stews, Xanthan gum for clear soups to wheat flour for cheese sauces etc...
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:55 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael Cook
What's y'all's favorite thickener? My stews are not standing up as thick as they should be. Do you use a standard formula of Tbs. per quart? I've been using flour or cornstarch but I do have a box of potato starch I'm thinking of trying.
Wow, Michael, you've opened up a real can of worms...or thickeners.

Many times I use tapioca in my stews to thicken them but don't usually have a problem with the consistency of my stews.

Other thickening agents I use are Wondra and instant potato flakes, as jkath mentioned. I also use cornstarch and plain unbleached all-purpose flour. Both stirred into cold water then added to whatever needs thickening.
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:57 AM   #6
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I like to use a roux and sometimes corn starch if Im thickening a soup I usually use some roux for more flavor and if it still isnt what I want I will add some corn starch its also a way to get the best of both worlds the roux for some flavor and some cornstarch to cut back some of the fat from the roux.
I have used instant potato flakes also in a pinch and the other I have done is saltines crushed real fine with a rolling pin when I had none of the above it actually works quite well in a soup or stew.
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:58 AM   #7
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For Asian recipes, I use cornstarch in cold water or chicken broth; for regular stews, etc., I make a roux of flour & butter.
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Old 03-22-2007, 12:01 PM   #8
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a real cheat for stews if your Mega pushed and without the standard thickeners, is Pasta or Rice, cooked until it vanishes completely, if time doesn`t allow, then certain un-sugared breakfast cerial works too.

but you didn`t hear that from me, I would Never do such things!
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Old 03-22-2007, 12:12 PM   #9
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For stews, boeuf Burgandy etc., I use classic roux. Also in sauces, I often use roux, but when I am in a hurry or would like a shortcut, I use either corn or potato flour. But I think flavour wise, nothing can beat properly made roux.
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Old 03-22-2007, 12:13 PM   #10
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If it is just stews that you are having problems with you may wish to just add some barley to your stews. Barley develops a natural starch which thickens as it cooks. You'll end up with a really nice thick stew which can be reheated without losing it thick rich gravy plus have the wonderful filling texture of the barley and it's comforting flavor.
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Old 03-22-2007, 12:51 PM   #11
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For stews I do not use anything, my stews come out pretty thick without any flour or corn/potato starch.

As mention above barely is a good additive, I like to add potato.
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Old 03-22-2007, 01:01 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jkath
Here's a really odd one, but for soups and stews it works:
instant potato flakes!

I also like to use "wondra".
I use the instant potato flakes all the time too. Works great.
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:01 PM   #13
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I use the instant potato flakes all the time too. Works great.
I am glad to see other people dothis too!
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Old 03-22-2007, 11:20 PM   #14
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I am a wondra user too - potato flakes for soups is great. cornstarch for making asian vegies shine.
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Old 03-23-2007, 12:16 AM   #15
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There's only one thing that I hate about corn starch.

Even though it makes a beautiful silky smooth thickener, after a while, it starts to break down in sauces and gravies!

Ever order Chinese food to go that has lobster sauce, then by the time you get it home, the gravy that's in it is all loose and watery? Why does that happen?

The same thing happens when the sauce or gravy is kept in the fridge for a few days. I mainly like to use a roux to thicken liquids. It seems to hold up better and longer.

Or Wondra, because it is granuled and mixes very easily with cold water.
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Old 03-23-2007, 04:57 AM   #16
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I don't use thickeners in my stews. Yet my stews always come out thick and flavorful. My secret? I puree the veggies along with the stock. This means I fish out the meat (I keep the meat cuts big) in the middle of stewing (but before adding any ingredient that must remain whole), then I use a stick blender to puree all ingredients (you have to remove bay leaves and such.) Then I add back the meat (slice them smaller if necessary) and add the stuff you want to stay whole like buttom mushrooms, olives, chorizo slices or chickpeas. When done, rapidly cool down the stew and refrigerate overnight or freeze for later. The flavors will have combined by the time you reheat the stew.
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Old 03-23-2007, 06:45 AM   #17
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Originally Posted by Chopstix
I don't use thickeners in my stews. Yet my stews always come out thick and flavorful. My secret? I puree the veggies along with the stock. This means I fish out the meat (I keep the meat cuts big) in the middle of stewing (but before adding any ingredient that must remain whole), then I use a stick blender to puree all ingredients (you have to remove bay leaves and such.) Then I add back the meat (slice them smaller if necessary) and add the stuff you want to stay whole like buttom mushrooms, olives, chorizo slices or chickpeas. When done, rapidly cool down the stew and refrigerate overnight or freeze for later. The flavors will have combined by the time you reheat the stew.


Yeah, I've also done it that way. Even with a pot roast. This is mainly called flourless gravy. But it works!

You can also use the food processor for this as well. But I must warn you that the carrots tend to make the gravy a little bit sweet because of their high sugar content.
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Old 03-23-2007, 06:58 AM   #18
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My stews are usually thicker now because of using less braising liquid and using the technique of putting parchment paper in contact with the contents while it is braising. It concentrates the braising liquid by doing this.
Usually the flour I usually put on my meat for searing will translate to enough thickening if used in conjunction with the parchment paper.
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Old 03-23-2007, 07:17 AM   #19
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Yeah, I did that also, but the recipe that I use for beef stew also calls for a roux with the remaining flour that is used to coat the meat and the pan drippings left in the kettle.

After the meat is browned the gravy is made next, then the meat is added back into the pot with the gravy and is simmered on low for about 2-1/2 - 3 hours or more.

The large dark brown particles left in the kettle after searing and browning the meat are usually enough to color and flavor the gravy. Then I adjust the seasonings as desired.
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Old 03-23-2007, 07:45 AM   #20
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My favorites

Flour slurries..
Roux
Okra
File'
Cornstarch rarely
Arrow root less rarely
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