View Full Version : Thickening Sauces

Greg Davis
09-17-2007, 01:00 PM
[short post]
Anyone found a good way to thicken sauces using paleo ingredients?

[longer post]
Now and then I check out cooking shows on TV and notice good chefs like to make sauces from the leftovers in their fry pan... mmm looks like a great way to add flavor to meats especially. Other than just simmering it down they turn a brothy-like consistent thicker by adding sweet ingredients (ie. sugar, corn starch, etc.). I haven't really tried using nut flours but I suspect they wouldn't soak up much moisture and/or it wouldn't go well with a meaty broth.

And yesterday I came across a dill pickle soup base at a polish store and thought wow this would be great to make a creamy dill sauce. Tried it out just now on some chicken and it worked (coconut milk + dill base + parsley) but it would be a lot better if I can thicken it somehow..

Troy Archie
09-17-2007, 08:13 PM
Try ground almonds. I use them in my butter chicken recipe to thicken up the sauce.

Daniel Myers
09-17-2007, 09:19 PM
There are two main ways to thicken a sauce. The first is a roux -- a mixture of cooked butter and flour. Add butter to the pan and melt it over medium-low heat. Now add an equal amount of flour and whisk them together. Let the mixture cook over low heat until it starts to turn a very light brown. Now add the rest of your liquid and finish your sauce. If there's already fat in the pan, like you'd get from cooking some meats, you can just mix the flour with that and skip the butter.

The second is some kind of starch. Cornstarch is the most common, but arrowroot and tapioca starch are also used. Mix the starch with a little cold water before you add it to a hot liquid or it will clump.

Also, cornstarch is not sweet, and sugar has no thickening power.

Jesse Woody
09-18-2007, 03:27 AM
Okra can work to an extent, not as good as corn-starch, but it's paleo...for me, the downsides of two teaspoons of corn-starch are far outweighed by the potential for quality gravy...but I'm from the South, so that might affect my decision a bit ;)

Derek Simonds
09-18-2007, 07:10 AM
In cajun cooking you either use okra as Jesse said or file powder when making gumbo. Both are great thickening agents. I have used both wih success in other stews but have never tried file powder to make a gravy, nor do I have any ideas of its paleo value.

Let us know what you find, like Jesse I feel a good gravy goes a long way.

Garrett Smith
09-18-2007, 08:09 AM
Research xanthan gum and agar agar. They are used extensively by folks on the Body Ecology Diet. Agar agar is from a sea vegetable, so it's definitely Paleo. Xanthan gum is derived from a bacterium, so it's Paleo as well.

Ben Blosch
09-18-2007, 12:01 PM
For what it's worth, I saw a challenger on "Iron Chef:American" use Xanthan gum when cooking. He was a pretty famous Chef, so you're probably good there.

But then again, he lost.

Scotty Hagnas
09-18-2007, 08:15 PM
Arrowroot is a great thickener - it is a root, so it should pass for Paleo. It works nicely - and it works especially well for thickening gravies from leftover cooking juices.

It's pretty easy to find, just look in the bulk spices section. You can also buy it in spice jars, but that is usually a bit more pricey.

Robb Wolf
09-22-2007, 02:06 PM
Xantham gum works great and imparts no flavor to the meal. A little goes a long way.

Greg Davis
09-22-2007, 04:31 PM
Sweet thx for the ideas I'll take a look for xanthan gum and arrowroot and give it a try.

Greg Davis
10-09-2007, 07:16 AM
I picked up some arrowroot flour to use as a thickener (havent find the xanthum gum yet). The nutrition data on it sounds like its pretty carb dense:


Anyone know if the carbs in it are more favourable then grains/sugars etc? The nutrition data site above doesn't specify the makeup of the carbos..

Scotty Hagnas
10-10-2007, 06:11 PM
Arrowroot looks pretty bad if you look at that data, but remember that they used 128g or 1 full cup. You will never need more than a tablespoon or so for any given thickening sauce recipe, so the quantity should be pretty negligible.

No gluten in arrowroot.