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Er, gluten-free gravy?! Is this possible?

I'm having Thanksgiving next weekend, and my brother-in-law's gluten-free. I know he'd be gracious about foregoing gravy, but I'd like to find a workaround that would let him eat it.

- Is there a way to make roux without flour?
- If there are a couple of options, is any one significantly tastier / more effective?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.

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  1. You don't need a roux to thicken gravy. You can instead dissolve cornstarch into some cold water (the dissolved mixture is called a slurry) and add to the hot liquid to thicken as it comes to a simmer. Cornstarch is gluten-free, as is arrowroot powder and also potato starch, all used for thickening (so is tapioca, too). Of course, another very old-fashioned (albeit Frenchified) approach would be to use heavy cream and perhaps an egg yolk liaison off the heat (or even mounting cold butter as well), but that takes far too skilled a hand than is necessary for something like turkey gravy and really would turn it into something more like a Sauce than a gravy.

    Cornstarch is best for liquids that may involve dairy (like gravies), while arrowroot is best for thickening more acidic liquids.

    1. My sister is gluten free too. I make gravy for all of us this way... its great to keep on hand for all occasions especially under a fried egg.
      A simple solution: In a small crock pot make a simple stew.

      Either chicken thighs(skin-on and bone-in), or turkey legs.
      Rough chopped mire-poix(onion,carrot,celery)
      Sear off your meat in a sautee pan, remove yor meat,add your veggies to pan get some color on them, remove to crock pot, deglaze your pan with white wine, add drippings to crock pot too!
      Add a few cloves of garlic,fresh herbs of your choice, and enough water to 3/4 up the side of your product....

      Cook covered on low until the meat falls of the bone. Fish out the bones and herbs, I leave the skin...

      Use a "hand wand", vertical blender, whatever ya call it and Puree the whole crockpot until its smooth like thick soup. Season to taste.

      Remove the cover and turn up your crock pot. Cook for another 20-30 minutes. Be sure to stir often and scrape the sides, thats the best flavor!!Turn off the pot wait 5 minutes Grab the wand and puree again, this time pour a little cream into the pot. Season to taste. Serve and enjoy!

      I know it looks labor intensive, but if you make enough you can enjoy until easter.....

      1. Thanks folks.

        I found a blog about celiac that recommends a mix of soy flour, brown rice flour and cornflour. Saying soy flour alone makes a too-sweet gravy, but the brown rice and corn flour balances it out.

        Does non-gluten flour offer any advantages to cornstarch or the 'stew' approach?

        1. Either corn starch or potato starch can sub for flour in any gravy recipe. You won't make a roux, though. Instead you should mix the starch into a small amount of the stock - room temperature or cold - (you want to make it into a slurry) and whisk it to the gravy stock when you simmer it. The gravy will thicken as it cooks. The consistency will not be identical to flour-thickened gravy, though. It will be glossier and more transparent. Add the starch sparingly at first - you definitely don't want to overdo it because you'll get glop.

          1. Since I am intolerant of many starches, including wheat and corn, my husband (who loved Chinese food) learned to make his own using potato starch. Nyleve is right: you don't make a roux but instead mix the starch into small amount of stock and then whisk into gravy stock while it simmers and then thickens. The consistency is very close to flour-thickened gravy using potato starch, a more translucent shiny gravy (think Chinese restaurant) if you use cornstarch.

            1. I used arrowroot to thicken the gravy when I had a friend with Celiac's(?) come for my Thanksgiving. I also made flourless chocolate cake (epicurious.com)for dessert.

              1. even finely ground rice flour would work.

                1. I like thickening my gravy with cornstarch. No roux necessary.

                  1. Very nice that you're looking out for your bro-in-law. If you're cooking again for this coming holiday or for next Thanksgiving;

                    ALSO CHECK YOUR CHICKEN BROTH (and other ingredients) FOR WHEAT AND GLUTEN CONTENT / VERY MPORTANT; Many have wheat...even some of the organic ones.

                    No thickening agents needed for gravy. My mom simmers her turkey juice/gravy until thickened over low flame with; dry champagne, dried prunes and apricots, a few apple slices, fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano, and gluten-free chicken broth if needed.
                    Run the remaining liquid through a strainer and your done! Absolutely Delicious!

                    Or you can use corn starch or an all purpose gluten free flour. Check the packages that have recipes for gravy and such.

                    1. We use cornstarch or sweet rice flour to thicken gravies these days. With sweet rice flour you would make a roux, just like with regular flour. With cornstarch we get the broth simmering and add a slurry of cornstarch mixed with a little cold water. Any of the starches will work (potato, arrowroot, corn) but they all give a slightly different result - picking one over the other is a matter of preference. I find that the roux with rice flour method does a better job of binding fat into your gravy - say if you were using pan drippings.

                      1. Others have provided some excellent alternatives, so I'll only add that my dad has celiac and as an fyi to you - he has complained that rice flour, no matter how fine the grind, usually has a residual grittiness in a mixture. He will typically use cornstarch or potato flour.

                        Also, I've read that when using arrowroot, it should be added off the heat, otherwise, its structure will break down and not provide thickening.

                        amoncada is correct about checking labels. My dad also complains that his favorite soup - Campbell's Tomato - has flour/wheat as an ingredient. There is even gluten invovled in the distilling process of vinegar. Go figure! It seems to show up in the oddest places........

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: CocoaNut

                          I'm celiac and I agree with your father...rice flour can be grainy!
                          I find brown rice flour a bit better.

                          I like to use chick-pea flour or another bean flour for gravy, the flavour of the bean adds to the gravy!

                        2. Good advice about the gravy, and if you're making stuffing with wheat bread, don't cook it inside the turkey - it can "contaminate" the meat for your brother-in-law. I make stuffing with GF cornbread and some GF bread from Whole Foods, and no one ever notices any difference.

                          1. Lots of great replies already, including my preferred way - potato starch or cornstarch.

                            One more thought: if you don't have those on hand and only discover you'd like to make your gravy GR at the last minute, you can use mashed potatoes. It works.