How Not to Cook With Cornstarch

In my ongoing quest to remain wheat-free, I’ve had successes and failures in the kitchen. Today, I’d like to share one failure with you. It’s not meant to discourage you, but instead to warn you. In other words, don’t try this at home.

The task at hand seemed pretty basic. I wanted to make my healthy chicken pot pie recipe, so I had to figure out how to do it wheat-free. The crust was not a problem. I just replaced the top crust with mashed potatoes and made a shepherd’s pie instead. I’ve done that before and we both like it a lot.

The next thing I had to do was find a replacement for the 2 T of flour used to thicken the pot pie mixture. I did the requisite research and found that corn starch is an adequate replacement. The caveat is that you use half the amount, you mix it with a little liquid before you add it to anything, and you cook it on a low to medium temperature. No problem. I did that and the recipe thickened just fine. I poured the mixture in my ramekins, topped them with mashed potatoes and popped them into a 400-degree oven for a half-hour.

Yep, that’s right. I put a mixture that isn’t suppose to be cooked above medium heat on the stove top into a blazing inferno. For a half-hour. Big mistake.

Apparently, when the corn starch is heated to a high temperature, it just liquefies everything. Now instead of shepherd’s pies, I pretty much had chicken soup topped with mashed potatoes. Granted it didn’t taste bad, but it certainly wasn’t what I was expecting.

In any case, I won’t repeat that mistake again. And I will have to find a substitute for corn starch for this recipe. There are certainly many choices out there, including arrowroot, xanthan gum or maybe even almond flour. In any case, this is just one minor setback in my wheat-free journey, and I’m sure I will work out the kinks as I continue down the road.

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