Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Arrowroot - the paleo-friendly starch

There's one problem with not allowing flour or cornstarch in the paleo diet - you can't thicken sauces. Actually, you can - if you use arrowroot. At one time, in fact, the preferred starch for sauce-making in fancier kitchens was arrowroot, because the sauces end up clearer and glossier. However, because it was expensive, it fell out of favour. These days, you can pick up a decent-sized bag of arrowroot for around $10, at least in my neck of the woods, and it will last for a long time if you only use it for making sauces.

Quick Cheese Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 2 Tbsp arrowroot (approximate)
  • 1 cup milk, preferably 2% or 3.5% milk fat
  • 1/2 cup grated cheese such as cheddar or parmesan
  • salt and pepper to taste (use white pepper so your sauce isn't full of black specks)
  1. Melt the butter over medium-high heat, and allow it to just start to brown.
  2. Whisk the arrowroot in - it should form a thick paste, which then thins up again quickly.
  3. Gradually whisk in the milk and bring the mix to a simmer or low boil, stirring continuously with the whisk. As the sauce nears the simmering point, it should thicken up and the lumps of arrowroot should disappear.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Stir in the grated cheese until it melts.
ALTERNATE method - mix the arrowroow with a bit of the milk before adding it to the melted butter. It will look funny at first because the butter won't mix in with the milk (it will just float on top), but when it thickens up it will be fine. I don't think you'll get lumps if you do it this way.

Use this to top steamed vegetables for a cheesy break from the ordinary. If it doesn't thicken, add a bit more arrowroot. If there are lumps (it happens sometimes), put the sauce through a strainer.

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