Tuesday, November 20, 2007

All-Purpose Gravy

Today Jessica posted turkey, gravy & stuffing recipes on her blog. Can't say that I have any stellar recipes for those. I've made turkey twice in my life -- unfortunately, neither time has it lived up to my expectations. As for the stuffing, nothing exciting to report there. I think I have had a tendency to burn it because I cook it in a pan rather than the bird. But, I DO have a fabulous gravy recipe that I thought I'd share.

I don't like the last-minuteness of gravy so when I stumbled upon this recipe the first year that I hosted Thanksgiving, I gave it a try and was really pleased with the results . It can be used with almost any type of meat or poultry and is FANTASTIC with mashed potatoes. You can make it ahead and freeze it if you want to. Then to reheat, put it in a pan with a tablespoon of water and bring to a simmer. Whisk it to recombine. Also, you can double the recipe -- just cook it in a dutch oven and increase cooking time by about 50%.

All-Purpose Gravy
Source: Cook’s Illustrated Magazine, Nov. – Dec. 2003
Makes 2 cups

1 small carrot, peeled and chopped into rough ½-inch pieces (about ½ cup)
1 small celery rib, chopped into rough ½-inch pieces (about ½ cup)
1 small onion, chopped into rough ½-inch pieces (about ¾ cup)
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
¼ teaspoon dried thyme
5 whole black peppercorns
salt and ground black pepper

  1. In food processor, pulse carrot until broken into rough ¼-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses. Add celery and onion; pulse until all vegetables are broken into 1/8-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses.
  2. Heat butter in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and well browned, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add broths; bring to boil, skimming off any foam that forms on surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and add bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 3 cups, 20-25 minutes.
  3. Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer to clean saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve hot.
Notes: In the absence of pan drippings, making a good-tasting gravy requires several crucial flavor-building steps. To start, the vegetables must be well browned. Caramelizing the sugars in the veggies gives the gravy a complex roasted flavor. Browning the flour also heightens the roasted flavor of the gravy and gives it a distinctive chestnut color. A combination of beef and chicken broths contributes a rich, well-rounded meaty flavor. Whisking the broths in slowly releases the vegetable fond from the bottom of the pan and ensures a lump-free gravy. Herbs and spices round out the flavor. When straining the finished gravy, it is important to press on the veggies to extract as much flavor as possible. Straining also guarantees a velvety smooth gravy.

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