With cold temperatures beginning to infiltrate many cities and towns, now is the perfect time to hunker down and perfect all your favorite soups and stews. Aside from the old standbys like clam chowder and chicken noodle soup, nothing warms the belly quite like a steaming bowl of easy beef stew. Loaded with savory chunks of beef, aromatic vegetables, and red wine, beef stew is the ideal cold-weather meal. However, most of what makes stew such a comforting dish has everything to do with the thick velvety liquid accompanying those delicious slow-cooked ingredients. If you want to ensure your next pot of beef stew has a luxurious texture and full-bodied broth, you may want to utilize a bit of tapioca.
For those of you who have never used tapioca in cooking, this plant-based ingredient comes from the cassava plant and can be purchased in a variety of dried forms ranging from pearls to flour. Essentially, tapioca is a pure vegetable starch serving as an ideal thickener for foods that require some additional structure such as pies, soups, and stews. Instead of starting your next pot of stew with a homemade roux of butter and flour, you may want to use a bit of quick-cooking tapioca which will impart a thicker, more concentrated consistency to this savory soup-like meal. Before we reveal any potential drawbacks to using tapioca, let's focus on the factors that make this ingredient a convenient addition to your next pot of stew.
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How To Use Tapioca To Thicken Your Next Batch Of Stew
If you're after a stick-to-your-ribs kind of meal, tapioca may be the ingredient you need for your next satisfying pot of stew. Besides flour and the many effective substitutes for cornstarch, tapioca is a great option since this tuber starch is 100% gluten free and can be added to your stew at any point in the cooking process. Depending on whether you're making this warming meal over the stove or in a crockpot, tapioca doesn't need high heat to activate. Using this thickener is quite simple: Once stew meat has been browned and added to your pot along with any chopped vegetables, herbs, and broth, add in a few tablespoons of quick-cooking tapioca. Whether this hearty dinner cooks for one hour or more than two, tapioca will thicken your flavorful broth in no time.
If you're used to using cornstarch as a reliable gluten-free thickener and want to make the jump to tapioca starch, you can substitute this root-based starch on a 1:2 ratio. This means that if you're used to using one tablespoon of cornstarch, substitute two tablespoons of tapioca starch. Beyond the fact that tapioca doesn't need high heat to thicken, this convenient starch will also give your broth an alluring sheen. Even though tapioca has many benefits, there are a few considerable factors worth mulling over before using this convenient thickener.
Tapioca Starch Is Commercially Available In A Few Different Forms
Even though adding quick-cooking tapioca to your next pot of stew is simple and effective, the resulting consistency of your broth may have a little too much texture. Unlike the larger pearls you might buy to make Boba tea, quick-cooking tapioca is extra-small grains that have been pre-cooked. While this product is easy to add to any soup or stew recipe, the grains may not completely dissolve once your stew has finished cooking. Even though tapioca starch is completely tasteless, if you want to avoid any tiny grains of tapioca in your next pot of stew, throw your desired amount of quick-cooking tapioca in a blender until fine, or use tapioca flour instead.
Add the fine root powder to a separate bowl with a bit of water to form a runny paste. Once every bit of dry flour has been absorbed, slowly add the mixture to your stew, stirring continuously until the paste has been completely incorporated. If you're new to using this gluten-free thickener, start with only one tablespoon and then decide if you need more. You can always add more tapioca flour until you've achieved the right texture. While there are several easy ways to thicken your next soup, tapioca is a reliable, easy-to-use ingredient perfect for bulking up the broth of your next hearty stew.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.