Flour and water slurries make quick work of thickening soups, stews and sauces. Unlike a roux that is made at the beginning, the slurry can be made at any point during cooking. The trick to avoid lumps and clumps is handling your slurry correctly. This makes it possible to thicken dishes just before serving to create the perfect consistency for dinner.
Whisk Away Lumps
Mix the flour with cold water in a shallow bowl. The amount of flour you need depends on the amount of sauce you are thickening and whether you want a light or heavy sauce. As a rule, 1 tablespoon of flour to ½ cup of water is sufficient to thicken a bowl or 2 of soup or stew. A larger batch may require up to 4 tablespoons of flour. Whisk the mixture until the flour and water form a smooth slurry and all the flour has dissolved into the water.
Shake It Up
If whisking isn’t to your liking, pour cold water into a pint jar until it is one-fourth to halfway full, depending on the amount of slurry you are making. Add the flour and seal the jar. Shake the jar until the slurry is smooth and all the flour has dissolved. The slurry will look opaque with no clumps, lumps or bumps.
Easy Does It
Slowly pour the slurry into the sauce or soup to be thickened, stirring constantly. Simmer for 2 to 3 minutes to cook the flour and thicken the sauce. Failing to cook the flour long enough leaves your sauce tasting pasty, or floury.
To avoid diluting the flavor of your sauce or soup with extra water from the slurry, remove a cup of hot broth from the soup and use it to make the slurry. Add the appropriate amount of flour and whisk until it is smooth. Add the slurry to the soup a little at a time, stirring constantly until the flour cooks and the broth thickens.
If you prefer to have everything done in advance, making a roux from fats and flour in the beginning may be a better choice for you. Melt the fat in a saucepan and stir in the flour to make a thick paste. Typical ratio of fat to flour is 1 to 1. Pour cold broth into the roux a little at a time, while whisking the roux to prevent lumps. As a rule, adding cold liquids to a bubbly hot roux reduces the chances of lumping or clumping, and adding cold slurries to hot broth reduces lumping as well.
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