|Brown Rice Flour|
Wheat flour is commonly used to thicken soups, sauces and gravies by incorporating in the form of a roux (flour and fat) or a slurry (flour and a liquid). With the increased attitude towards wheat and avoiding it, substitutes don't always deliver a satisfactory result. Not so with thickening soups, sauces and gravy using Brown Rice Flour. Holiday turkey dinners at my house are always accompanied by a large, 4 liter pot of brown rice flour thickened gravy. After the meal when I reveal my 'secret', not one guest has ever said they could tell something was different.
Unlike wheat flour or starches, brown rice flour is incorporated into boiling liquid a little at a time with constant whisking. Once incorporated, the gravy, soup or sauce must be moved to a low heat burner and simmered, partially covered for 15-20 minutes... stir or whisk occasionally. This cooks off the 'grainy' texture, characteristic of rice flour. Strain to remove any lumps. Rice flour, especially when used in larger amounts, dilutes seasoning. It is a good habit to always taste and adjust your seasoning before serving.
Brown Rice Flour can be found in bulk at 'The Bulk Barn' and most grocery stores packaged under the 'Bob's Red Mill' brand. Also found in larger packages at 'Edible Island', 'Naked Naturals' and all health food stores.
Brown rice flour is a gluten-free alternative to thickening gravy with roux. For a fat-free version, skim and remove all fat from the stock and pan drippings. It is important to simmer the gravy for 15-20 minutes after the addition of the rice flour, to cook off the ‘grainy’ texture.
1 cup flavorful chicken stock
3 to 4 Tbsp. brown rice flour
Seasonings... granulated garlic, minced herbs, freshly ground pepper, sea salt, Worcestershire sauce, bouillon powder or cubes, tamari etc.
Deglaze the roasting pan with some of the stock. Strain into a small saucepan, add the remaining stock and desired seasonings. For fat-free gravy, skim and remove all fat from the stock and drippings then bring to a rolling boil. With a wire whisk, add brown rice flour slowly, while whisking vigorously. If you want thicker gravy, add a little more rice flour in the same manner.
Move the pot to another burner set to low heat, partially cover and allow to just simmer slowly for 15-20 minutes, stir occasionally. Taste and adjust seasonings. Strain and serve.
**CHEF'S NOTE: to thicken soups, gravies and other sauces; use a ratio of 2-3 Tbsp. per cup of liquid. Unlike other thickeners, the liquid will thicken while whisking in the rice flour. Stop adding when you feel your soup is thick enough. If after simmering, if the soup is too thick, use more stock to bring it to the proper consistency. With experience, you will become accustom to the ratio required to achieve consistency you prefer.
Till next time... Bon Appétit!
Recipe and Photo by Sally Rae