I'm a big fan of adding cornstarch mixed in a little water to thicken
veggie and fruit based sauces. I've tired arrowroot in the past, as it
is supposed to add the least flavor, but it seems to be tricky, and
doesn't reheat as well (and I'm not a gourmet enough cook to really
care ;-). Potato starch also works, but seems a little heavier than the
I've also found that you can mix a little sifted flour directly into sauces
and avoid making the butter roux first. I have had the best luck with
Wondra flour, which is basically just pre-sifted wheat and barley flour,
with a few vitamins and minerals thrown in. It has a smooth consistency,
and mixes in well with almost no lumps.
My best trick, though, is to use browned flour in recipes where a deep,
rich flavor is desired, such as thick stews or stroganoffs. I got the idea
from the Joy of Cooking and posted it a couple of years ago, but thought
it would be good to post again. I like the smell and slightly nutty, hearty
taste that browned flour adds.
This recipe is already in the archives, under condiments, so you can
find it again as needed.
---From The Joy of Cooking:
A variant used in gravies to enhance color and flavor [and as we now
know, to do fatfree cajun cooking]. The slow but inexpensive
procedure by which it is made is worth trying. The flour, when ready,
should smell nutty and baked. Place:
1 cup flour
in a dry heavy skillet. Stir constantly over very low direct heat,
scraping the flour from the sides and bottom of the pan. Or, heat the
flour in a very slow oven, 200 deg F to 250 deg F, in a very heavy
pan. Shake the pan periodically so the flour browns evenly. Do not
let it get too dark or, as with brown roux, it will become bitter and
lose its thickening power altogether. Even properly browned flour has
only about half the thickening power of all-purpose flour. It may be
stored in a tightly covered jar in a cool place.