The meat is falling off the bone, the sweet aromas of slow cooked herbs have your guests ravenous, but your one pot wonder is a watery swamp disappointment. Never let a thin sauce stand between pot and plate again! Thickening 101: Where we explore the pros and cons of common thickening agents, and divulge our top tips and tricks to best thicken soups, stews and sauces.
In theory, an overly sloppy meal can be reduced through further cooking. Simply remove the lid, crank the heat and cook until the desired quantity of sauce is reached.
Maize cornflour, or ‘cornstarch’, is flour finely derived from soaking and grinding maize kernels. It’s gluten-free, and when combined with liquid, turns milky in colour, and forms a smooth, glossy texture.
With equal parts cornflour and water make a paste. Add some hot liquid from the meal to your slurry and stir. When warm and smooth, add incrementally to your meal – stirring after each addition. A slurry ensures no gelatinous lumps form when the cornflour meets the hot liquid of your meal.
Roll your meat and veggies in cornflour before cooking. The oil from the pan/meat fat cooks the flour and simultaneously thickens the meal.
Arrowroot is a starch obtained from the roots of the tropical Maranta arundinanacea plant, native to South America. It is gluten-free, has an extraordinarily bland taste, and gelling properties perfect for thickening puddings and sauces. You can thank arrowroot for the glossy finish on tarts and sauces. Arrowroot activates as a lower temperature than both cornflour and all-purpose flour.
With equal parts arrowroot and cold liquid make a paste. Add some hot liquid from the meal to your slurry and stir. When warm and smooth, add incrementally to your meal – stirring after each addition. Only add when everything is cooked.
Did you know general all-purpose glutinous flours are actually 75% starch? The starch absorbs water, and then when heat is applied, the molecules burst releasing a gel-like mixture perfect for thickening.
All-purpose flour gives more body to soups, stews and sauces than cornflour or arrowroot, meaning it’s ideal for rich, cream-based recipes like this Creamy Broccoli Pasta. Uncooked, the flavour is unpleasant. Once cooked, it takes on a nutty richness.
Mix equal parts flour and cold water. Add some hot liquid from the meal to your slurry and stir. When warm and smooth; stir into your meal. This will ensure no lumps form when the flour comes into contact with the hot meal. Bring meal to a boil and simmer for five minutes to cook the flour.
Perfect for a small pan sauce. Knead equal parts butter and flour into dough. Add incrementally to a hot pan of sauce and whisk until combined. Simmer until the flour has cooked and your sauce has reached the desired consistency.
Similar to a beurre manié, however the flour is cooked before the sauce is started, and calls on any kind of fat or oil. Melt the fat (e.g., butter) in a saucepan. Add flour and stir until combined. When the mixture has lightly goldened, remove from heat. Add a small portion of your liquid/meal and make a slurry. Combine all and simmer for three minutes until the desired consistency is reached.
Roll your meat and veggies in flour before cooking. The oil from the pan/meat fat cooks the flour and simultaneously thickens the meal.
There are wide variety of thickening agents on the market with differing price points and availability.
Cook your pasta, rice, pulses and beans in the dish to naturally thicken the sauce all in one pot.