So you are making a nice beef stew for dinner and want to thicken up the gravy/broth. How do you do this? Perhaps you or a guest has a gluten allergy. How do you get the correct consistency? This is where your pantry comes into play. you could use the old reliable roux to thicken, but if you already have diced potatoes in the stew, they could get all crushed up when stirring in the roux. Pull out a box or jar of mashed potato flakes and add them to the stew. Allow to rehydrate and slowly stir them into the stew. When the flakes rehydrate they are absorbing the water, expanding and thickening the stew, just like a roux does. I would not do this until the last 10 minutes before you serve the stew, cooking for the 10 minutes to fully rehydrate and cook down the flavor. Remember to adjust your seasoning after adding the potatoes as the stew will usually require additional salt.
Take note that there are a lot of instant mashed potato products out there that have a bunch of garbage in the ingredient list. Please read the list and find one that has the least amount of added ingredients. I have found some that have only dehydrated potatoes and perhaps vitamin c as a preservative.
Read more about roux for those times where the stirring won't mess up your stew. Click here.