Thursday, November 26, 2009


When you sit down to Thanksgiving Dinner and lively conversation you don't want the conversation to be about who the lumps in the gravy look like. Although my family is very fussy about gravy and have left me with the impression that good gravy is hit or miss with me, I have the basic concept of how to turn a liquid into a gravy. For professional instruction go to the website of The Gluten-free Girl and The Chief. This video is well worth your time and much better instruction then I have here. I'm not a professional; I'm a mom and a grandmother.

These gravy recipes will only say flour, not what kind, because the choice is up to you. To make a more informed decision I will share what I have learned about starches and flours.

Any recipe that says corn starch can be substituted with arrowroot without any difference to the recipe.

Potato flour
When I first started cooking gluten-free I learned something about potato flour I haven't seen mentioned on blogs, websites, or in books that left me frustrated. If you add a little water to it and stir the starch thickens and keeps on thickening until you can't work with it and adding a little more water doesn't help either, because it keeps on thickening. Yet, the taste is a just right for a gravy that will be going on potatoes. Below I will teach you how to work it into a gravy with my I'm in a hurry and don't tend to follow recipes method.

Brown Rice flour
The flavor of rice flour is mild enough to not overpower the flavor of sauces and gravies. In the right amount it makes a good gravy. Add enough and it makes gravy flavored cream of rice.

Garbanzo bean flour

Garbanzo bean flour is a great way to add a little more protein to you meal. It thickens just as any other flour, but you'll need to cook it 5 minutes instead of 2 to make it digestible. It does impart a flavor I prefer for soups and white sauces.

Roux is equal parts melted butter with flour cooked in. Don't use potato flour for the above mentioned lumping problem. Roux is a good choice if your main course meat doesn't provide much juice and you'll be using a store bought broth. The butter will add flavor.

To make 2 cups of gravy start with 3 tablespoons of butter. I use a butter substitute, Smart balance Light, which doesn't melt well. To solve this problem I use 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of my butter substitute.

Melt butter in a medium sauce pan on low heat. When melted stir in 3 tablespoons of flour. Once the butter is soaked into all the flour you should have a past. Keep stirring as you cook it for a couple of minutes. From this point it is actually the same instructions as with the slurry. Pour your roux in small amounts into 2 cup of boiling broth. Be sure to include any of the browned juices that the meat has provided. Bring it back to a boil before deciding if your gravy needs more roux.

3 Tbs. melted butter or substitute
3 Tbs. flour

This is simply equal amounts of starch and cold water. Use cold water because warm water will cause the pectin in the starch to gel making a lump, not a slurry. No need to really measure, but I use a heaping tablespoons of starch and then add water until I have a thin paste.

Bring the meat juices to a boil. You will need to stir the slurry before you can pour it, because the starch has the tendency to settle. Pour the slurry in small amounts, bring the broth back to a boil before deciding if your gravy needs more of the slurry. The slurry/starch remember has a tendency to settle to the bottom, this will turn into one big lump if you don't keep stirring, using a whisk.

1 heaping Tbs. starch
1 Tbs. cold water, more or less

Quick “I'm in a hurry and don't tend to follow recipes closely” gravy

Warning this method has a higher likelihood of coming out lumpy.

If you have plenty of broth from the meat to work with sprinkle small amounts of the flour, lightly dusting the surface of the boiling broth. Again the most important part of a non-lumpy gravy is to keep stirring it in with a whip. After you sprinkle and stir in about a tablespoon worth stop adding flour, give it a moment check it's thickness. When it reaches your desired thickness turn down the heat and cook on simmer for a couple of minutes, so your gravy doesn't taste like raw flour.

About 3 tablespoons of flour to 2 cups of broth works for me.

Most of the pictures over the past few days have been of my second born son Jared age 18 months. He had wanted thanksgiving dinner so much he pulled the large wooden high chair about 15 feet from the pantry area to the table. Jared is now 24 and has 2 little boys of his own to feed.