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Oct 13, 2011 11:01 AM

How Can I Thicken a Beef Stew Without Wheat Flour?

I am making beef bourguignon and can not use flour but I want to thicken the sauce. I've read that either potato starch or sweet rice flour can be used. Which one is the best and what cautions should be used?

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    1. re: coll

      Cornstarch will give you that "Chinese restaurant" sort of gelatinous glisten to a sauce. I would go with potato starch which is a flavor that will work better with bourguignon .

      1. re: CarrieWas218

        Potato Starch, agreed. Unless one doesn't mind that gelatinous glisten in their beef stew...;)

        Beef Bourguignon is another matter, and generally uses much less flour, just a tablespoon per lb of beef, to create a small amount of thickening with tomato paste and the fond, after removing the browned meat cubes You can skip the flour in this step and just reduce the sauce.

    2. I don't think it would glisten if you added some mashed potato.

      1. like everyone said, cornstarch, potato starch...etc.

          1. re: MandalayVA

            bingo, this is what you want, it comes recommended by none other than Alton Brown

            1. re: tobinsmith

              just be sure to use a VERY light hand with xanthan or guar. powerful stuff, and too much will yield slimy or gummy results.

              i've personally found that rice flour is a good stand-in for wheat.

          2. I've never used flour to thicken my beef bourguignon. After the initial cooking is done, I just remove the lid and reduce to a low simmer until the sauce has reduced to the consistency I like.

            6 Replies
            1. re: monkeyrotica

              I do the same though I usually have some bits of carrot and onion in the sauce that can be mashed/immersion blended to make it thicker too.

              1. re: escondido123

                Mashed carrots are my fave thickener for stew and chili. Adds a nice sweetness and ups the nutritional value.

                1. re: sherriberry

                  I found an old English stew recipe in Dorothy Hartley's "Food in England." Basically you use a box grater to grate the vegetables (potatoes, carrots, turnips, parsnips, onion) and place the "nest" of grated vegetables in a crock pot or covered casserole. Place the browned meat on top, cover and slow roast for hours with little or no cooking liquid (the liquid comes from the vegetables and the meat). The grated vegetables basically disintegrate and form part of the "gravy." Jacques Pepin uses a similar technique in an "instant" soup recipe that his mother used when he was growing up during the war when they were always short on food. He'd heat some plain soup stock to a boil then add grated vegetables (whatever they had handy or was about to spoil). I've used this grated vegetable technique with much success to thicken stews and soups without having to use flour or a roux. Much appreciated by folks who have a gluten intolerance.

                2. re: escondido123

                  I also puree the veggies. I never use a thickener. Since the veggies (typically onions, celery and carrots) are generally VERY cooked by the time the stew is finished, I remove the meat and bay leaves, then puree the veggies with the gravy using my immersion blender. It makes for a very tasty gravy with lots of body.

                  1. re: CindyJ

                    I do, too, after reducing with the lid open a bit.

                    1. re: CindyJ

                      I do this also. When available I use celeriac instead of celery as it gives the sauce a nice silkiness