The Pre-Cooked Flour That Will End Your Gravy Strife

Gravy is one of the essential components of many meals, especially when you make meats like turkey or a roast. There's nothing like a super smooth, velvety gravy poured over meats, mashed potatoes, and meat pies. But many people don't make gravy often, and when they do it's fraught with issues, especially when you're juggling side dishes, salads, and guests. Everyone has had gravy that is lumpy or has the unpleasant taste of uncooked flour. How do you avoid this problem?

To make gravy, you start with the drippings. These are the juices and fat that the meat releases as it cooks (per Betty Crocker). These drippings are combined with flour to make a roux. And here's the crucial part: that roux must be cooked enough so the starch in the flour gelatinizes according to Science Direct, which is a fancy term for breaking down the components of flour so it can absorb the liquid. If the flour isn't cooked for just the right period of time, you'll get lumps and that uncooked flour taste.

So if you aren't an experienced gravy maker and you are now responsible for an important upcoming dinner, whether it's a meal with your boss or a holiday, and you want to make gravy, what can you do? You can practice a lot, which takes time and potentially a lot of ingredients, or you can turn to science and use pre-cooked flour.

Wondra to the rescue

If you stir flour into a hot liquid, the mixture will be lumpy. That's because the starch around each tiny bit of flour will expand when it absorbs that hot liquid, creating an impermeable lump according to the Seattle Times. Adding flour to the fat first is an important step. That cooks the flour, separating the starch granules so they will easily absorb the liquid, et voilà! You now have gravy.

But the whole situation is still tricky. You can undercook the flour, or perhaps the roux wasn't stirred thoroughly enough. That's where pre-cooked (also known as instant) flour comes in to save the day. While there are many brands out there, the one many chefs swear by is called Wondra.

This miracle product was developed in the 1960s, per The Washington Post. It is a Gold Medal brand, owned by General Mills. To make Wondra, the raw flour is first steamed, then dried. This process "pregelatinizes" that pesky starch so the flour dissolves almost instantly in liquids and sauces, meaning there will be no lumps forming even if you add it straight to hot liquid on the stovetop.

Making perfect gravy

When you open a container of Wondra, you'll notice that the powder is very fine; that's because of the processing. And the flour starts with lower protein wheat, according to Martha Stewart, so don't use it as a substitute for all-purpose flour to make baked goods or they will fall apart. To use Wondra, according to Bobby Flay explaining how to cook gravy in an appearance on The Today Show, you just need to sprinkle a couple of tablespoons into your stock or broth and bring it to a boil. You can also sprinkle it into the drippings, cook for just a few seconds, then add the stock. However you add it, you will not see any lumps.

You can also use Wondra in other recipes. It's perfect to make the creamiest sauce for super macaroni and cheese, or you can use it to thicken the dark meaty sauce for beef rouladen. If you're using it to make gravy, it's very easy to change the consistency. If the gravy seems too thick, just add more liquid and whisk. If it's too thin, sprinkle in some more Wondra and whisk. Now you can make the perfect gravy and host all your dinner parties with confidence.