Use Wondra Instant Flour for better sauce, pie crusts and more.

I remember a cobalt blue canister of Wondra flour sitting in the pantry from my youth. The packaging, which doesn’t seem to have changed much since then (if at all), markets it as a lifesaver for people in the sauce. It’s the key to making lump-free sauces, but it can also do so much more.

Introduced in the early 1960s, Wondra is the brand name for a type of instant flour that has been steamed and dried – a process called pre-gelatinization – before being packaged and sold. The process essentially precooks it and results in a super fine powder that dissolves easily in liquids.

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“I love it,” chef and cookbook author Adrienne Cheatham said of making sauce for the smothered chicken. “To sing the pan, [the French term for sprinkling the pan with flour when building a sauce]I use Wondra every time because you never have to worry about lumps.”

What sets instant flour apart from all-purpose is that it disperses easily and can be sprinkled as is into a liquid to help thicken it without the need to make a roux, butter mania or porridge. A box of Wondra in your pantry will be a godsend the next time you find yourself with a watery sauce that needs to be retrieved at the last minute.

Beyond sauces, Wondra is great for lining baking pans for easy release. Its fine texture makes it easy to spread evenly over the surface of a pan in a thin layer, which means less flour is added to a recipe, which doesn’t affect the result.

Another result of the pregelatinization process is that the flour’s ability to form gluten is diminished, making it similar to low protein flours such as cake or pastry flour. This means Wondra can be used to make tender, flaky pie crusts, and the result is pancake batter that doesn’t need resting, as Julia Child suggests in her seventh cookbook, “The Way to Cook”. Food writer Allison Robicelli uses it in her recipe for angel food cake “It’s ethereal fluffy, no folding or futzing required,” she wrote. However, it’s important to note that it’s more expensive than other flours – Wondra is about twice the price of cake flour and five times more than all-purpose – so I wouldn’t recommend it for recipes that require plenty of flour.

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Instant flour is also great for cooking animal protein. “Chefs love using Wondra flour to dust fish and meat,” writes food writer David Hagedorn in a recipe for veal piccata. “It helps brown evenly and keeps items from sticking while sautéing, but it doesn’t give the batter that regular all-purpose flour can.”

Jacques Pépin uses Wondra in his recipe for garlic chicken breasts. And the folks behind “Modernist Cuisine” use it in conjunction with potato starch in their korean style chicken wings recipe for long lasting crispiness. (They also recommend it as a thickener for creamed spinach.)

Chef Eric Rivera loves using it to coat “lean, thin fish like petral sole or sliced ​​fish like ling cod or halibut,” he said. Since these items cook so quickly, “about 30-60 seconds per side”, the fact that the flour is essentially pre-cooked means there’s no worry about raw flour, even with cooking time. short.

“It’s great for creating a light, crispy crust on proteins because it binds surface liquids very well with an even coating that you can’t get using raw flour,” Cheatham told BuzzFeed. “The crust is so light it looks like there’s nothing on the protein at all. You just ended up with a nice burn!

And when it comes to getting a nice sear, Wondra is the scallop secret. As former Post associate editor Bonnie S. Benwick wrote in 2016: “We were taught never to expose a sea scallop in the pan to very high heat, lest its tender meat become rubbery and that dry-looking cracks rise from the bottom. edges. The new “Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Restaurant” (Ten Speed ​​Press, September 2016) has forced me to reconsider that stance because of the way chef Ashley Christensen seasons them. Only one side is coated with Wondra flour, which promotes a brown crust.

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