Thursday, October 30, 2014

Gravy 101

We've all been there. The turkey is done, resting on the cutting board and begging to be divided up and devoured. (by the way, don't you dare tent that thing with foil or the skin will turn soft like a wet microfiber rag.) Now it's time for the gravy. And somehow it turns out to be bland and lumpy. Not to worry my fellow cook; Swen to the rescue. This is Gravy 101 so come on in and take a groovy gravy lesson. You're going to walk out of here with your head up high, struttin' like you just won the lottery, and saying, "Dang! I'm the gravy master. I master that gravy."

The first thing you need to remember is the formula and you won't go wrong. Follow the formula and you will have basic gravy. From there, depending on how much adventure is in your soul, you can make it a smackin' work of art. I'll give you some ideas later but now for the formula.

The formula is 2-2-1. Two Tablespoons of butter, Two Tablespoons of Flour, 1 Cup broth. This will give you one cup of simple gravy. If you need more, double it. Now, get your apron on and come here to the stove.

In a skillet or saucepan, heat the butter until the foaming begins to slow down. That means it's hot. Keep the burner just below Medium or you'll burn the butter.
Sprinkle some flour into the skillet and whisk it into the butter. Then, add some more, about half a teaspoon at a time until it's all used up. Keep whisking, baby. The butter will absorb the flour and, PRESTO; no clumps of flour. Want to learn some French? OK. You are making a Roux (pronounced Roo, rhymes with Shoe). Roux is fat and flour mixed in just about equal amounts, depending on how thick you want what you are making. OK. Back to the gravy.

Keep whisking and, when the Roux (I capitalize it because I love it. Maybe some French guy, Pierre Roux invented this. Thanks, Roux.) starts to turn toasty brown, start adding the broth, a little at a time (a couple of table spoons at a time) and keep whisking. You're going to be a whisk master. Have fun with it; go clockwise, counterclockwise, right to left, and left to right. Whatever, but whisk, baby, whisk or that gravy is going to lump up like milk left outside on a Kansas summer day.

At first when you add broth, it will seem like all the liquid will steam away. Not to worry. Just keep going and, at some point, it will start turning to liquid. When it does, add the rest of the broth and whisk baby, whisk.

Now here's a key point. Turn up the heat a little to bring the gravy to simmer (little bubbles, not boiling). Gravy will only thicken at the simmer point. Keep whisking baby, ......

"When do I stop?" you ask. You stop when the gravy is a little thinner than you want to serve it. Why? Because it will cool down when you put it on the table and it will get thicker. Salt and pepper to taste and you have simple gravy. Nice? Nice!

OK. Do you want to kick this up a notch? Here are some ideas.
Add a sache (mesh bag with fresh thyme, bay leaf, and parsley stems) and let the flavors go in.
Add a touch of white wine or sherry for depth.
Add pan drippings (maybe half a cup) but remember to discard the fat. Do you have a fat separator? Shame on you! Get one. They are cool and will impress your guests. "What is that thing?" "It's my fat separator, dude. Don't worry about it." Use the wine to mix up the drippings so that all those brown bits are saved; they have all the flavor. Or, use apple cider instead of wine. Mmmmmmm.

You have graduated from Gravy 101. Remember 2-2-1 or 4-4-2 if you have more guests.
Go get 'em and happy Thanksgiving.

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