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Old 04-15-2008, 08:33 PM   #1
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Is there a better thickening agent than Corn Starch?

I make stews and the usual thickening agent is a little "cold" water mixed with corn starch. I do that, and it thickens the stew a bit, but not enough.

When I add more corn starch...it lessens the flavor.

Is there some kind of kick butt thickening agent?

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Old 04-15-2008, 08:37 PM   #2
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I find that when I brown the meat, and I flour it thoroughly, (seasoned flour of course), it tends to thicken it quite nicely. I prefer a flour slurry myself. Just cook long enough to cook out the flour taste.

Arrowroot is also a nice thickener without having to cook it out like the flour.

One more thing - - - if you are cooking potatoes in your stew you can take some out, along with some of the liquid, and blend them either in a blender or using a hand blender. No flavor to have to cook out this way. Instant potatoes is another option.
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:40 PM   #3
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One thing about using a flour slurry is that when it is added to the "mass," everything should be brought up to a boil. This will, then, help things come up to their best thickening capabilities.
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:43 PM   #4
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Yep, Katie mentioned a very important part. You just have to stand there and be patient for a few minutes. Stir, stir, stir.
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:45 PM   #5
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I like arrowroot powder and cold water. I get the arrowroot powder at Penzey's.
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:47 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kitchenelf View Post
I find that when I brown the meat, and I flour it thoroughly, (seasoned flour of course), it tends to thicken it quite nicely. I prefer a flour slurry myself. Just cook long enough to cook out the flour taste.
Ditto that. Remember, the darker you get your meat, without scorching, the better your gravy will taste.
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Old 04-15-2008, 08:47 PM   #7
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Okay....next question. What are you trying to thicken? Different answers for different situations.

Never mind. Long day. You already said stews.
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Old 04-15-2008, 09:15 PM   #8
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I prefer flour to cornstarch for thickening a stew. It has twice the thickening effect of corn starch. Also, corn starch will lose its thickening effect if you cook it for too long, so reheating a stew the next day could be a problem.

Make a beurre manie, a mixture of equal parts of flour and softened butter. Mix the two together with a fork (or your fingers) in a bowl. Add a half cup of the stew liquid and whisk the combo to smooth it out then stir it into the pot of stew. It needs to come to a boil to thicken. Cook it for 2-3 mintues to get rid of any raw flour taste.

You could also add some instant potato flakes.
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Old 04-16-2008, 02:07 AM   #9
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To me cornstarch is a great thickener. But for stews I also prefer flour.Here is a quick overview of thickeners:Cook's Thesaurus: Thickeners
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Old 04-16-2008, 04:07 AM   #10
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I dredge all the meat in flour first. When you add it (the meat) to the fat you used to sauté the vegetables, it makes a roux. If you don't add any more liquid than necessary, it will thicken your stew as it cooks.

You could also use additional roux later in the cooking process if you feel it's still too thin. Just remove some of the broth to a separate bowl first. Then whisk the roux into the bowl. Add it all back to the stew and it will thicken. If you do this, you'll have to simmer for another 20-30 minutes to cook out the flour flavour.
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Old 04-16-2008, 04:21 AM   #11
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My favorite thickener is a roux. It's similar to a beurre manie, except that it is cooked first. It also lends a great flavor what whatever you add it to. Also doesn't make your gravy clear/translucent like cornstarch or arrowroot.
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Old 04-16-2008, 08:30 AM   #12
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My mother used flour . My grandmother used
flour. I use cornstarch, but it doesn't reheat
well . So when I know I'm going to have left-
overs, I use 1/2 flour - 1/2 cornstarch .
I like cornstarch best because it thickens
clear, to flour's cloudy. And it's lighter.

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Old 04-17-2008, 12:09 PM   #13
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That's one reason why I asked for another thickener, is that, sometimes to get the desired thickess, I end up adding too much cornstarch and it starts muting the flavor of the stew sauce.

I was sorta wondering what the major commerical companies use (IE:stouffers, etc).
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Old 04-17-2008, 01:52 PM   #14
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You can try potato starch, tapioca starch, modified food starch and a wide variety of alternative flours: rice, millet, amaranth, etc.
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Old 05-25-2008, 07:46 PM   #15
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I've only known the following for thickners: Flour(my mother uses in gravy), butter & flour(used in the kitchen that I work in), and of course corn starch and tapioca.
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Old 05-26-2008, 06:02 AM   #16
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Xanthan gum works well in everything and doesn`t change the color in anyway, but for Stews I like to just throw in a handful of rolled oats, I have tried Bulgar wheat also, and it works.
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