Going backwards to go forward!
Since I went gluten-free I have been trying to figure out what to do about thickening sauces, soups and stews. Yesterday, at work I was talking to the chef, and he mentioned something that piqued my interest. This afternoon I picked up my copy of Escoffier, and flipped through until I found a section on roux. In this section he describes in great detail how to make a roux. As I got to the end of the section I found this:
From this it follows that, starch being the only one from among the different constituents of flour which really affects the thickening of sauces, there would be considerable advantage in preparing roux either from a pure form of it, or from substances with kindred properties, such as fecula, arrowroot, cornstarch, etc. It is only habit which causes flour to still be used as the binding agent of roux, and, indeed the hour is not so far distant when the advantages of the changes I propose will be better understood… From The Escoffier Cookbook by Auguste Escoffier 1989 edition
Apparently, not only can it be done, but it would only require half the amount of roux to thicken your sauce. Typically, I would use one pound of roux to thicken one gallon of liquid. This means that only half a pound would be required. Four ounces of butter and four ounces of starch. From what I was told yesterday, a brown roux can’t be done with cornstarch because it would scorch before it would brown. Its a start.