Thursday, November 15, 2007

Get on the Gravy Train – A How To

So you want to learn how to make lump free gravy, huh?!? And you want to get on that ol' gravy train, right? Well you've come to the right place then. This is a simple "how to" in making Great Gravy from Pan Drippings.

Making gravy is a lot easier that people think. There are some easy tricks of the trade that can make it a wonderful experience for you the cook and for your eaters and guests in enjoying. So here goes anything. It is a lot like making a rue. And what's a rue? Well it's easier than having to deal with rules. I'd rue anytime before I'd try ruling! Go ahead look it up the word. I will discuss rues on another time. Back to the Gravy making… Depending upon what sort of roasting dish you just took out of the oven, this recipe basically calls for any sort of pan drippings for the best gravy you have ever had the pleasure in making and eating!

Get Ready, Get Set, Go
Having everything else ready (your salads, other side dishes keeping warm or almost finishing, your roast resting up a bit, this is now the perfect time to do the gravy – yes at the last minute.

Once you have taken the turkey (insert and replace "turkey" with whatever you just roasted) out of the oven – place it on the rack it roasted on top of some sort of large platter to rest. Place clean dish towels or tin foil over roasted turkey to help keep little fingers (hey yours included!) from poking and tearing off the crispy skin. Let it rest for 20 minutes for a very large bird (say 25 lbs) but let it rest will you? Please make that one promise to me. Too many people start diving in and get carving right away. Let me let you learn, that by doing it in this fashion by not allowing the roast to rest will get any meat to basically freeze up – which is an odd thing to say since it just came out of the oven. Oxymoron, no? Frozed up Roast. Doesn't sound good, right? – Yeah so don't do it. Enough said about that one!

Liquids can be from the left over potato water you may still have from doing the potatoes – this includes any left over scalded milk. I wouldn't use more than ½ cup of wine if you so choose and that should be the first liquid if you are using wine to add once you get to this stage of the gravy making.

Do's and Don'ts

  • Do have all ingredients ready before you start.
  • Don't Forget about the gravy once you start cooking it, it requires your attention.
  • Do know that it's not the end of the world if you still get some lumps – it's all in the technique.
  • Don't use already hot liquids – let them cool down a bit prior to adding.
  • Do know you should make the gravy at the last moment and it will become its most thickest once it's reached its boiling point and starts to cool down.

Equipment Needed:

  • One still warm Oven Roasting pan with leftover drippings – Most pans are stove top safe, make sure and be careful.
  • Whisk
  • One working Stove Top
  • Pot Holders
  • Spoon for tasting
  • Heat Safe Bowl to transfer the pan drippings
  • Fine Strainer (Optional) (& in case of emergency) - (Keep reading, you will soon see why)

Ingredients Required:

  • 2 Tablespoons of drippings (fat) for each cup of gravy you want to make.
  • Salt & Pepper to Taste
  • Fresh Herbs of your Choosing
  • 1 Cup of cold liquid per each cup of gravy

Start Skimming
Take pan and pour into a heat-safe bowl all of the drippings and large pieces you can get out of the roasting pan. Careful, it may be still hot, but that's good! Let drippings cool down just a bit – the fatty liquid may even separate a bit – and that's good. Place roasting dish on top of stove.

Use of the Whisk
Taking whisk, scrape off any browned bits from the bottom of the pan – these are the flavor enhancers, leave 'em in. Now preferably add the "darker" pan drippings (which inevitably are on the bottom of your heat safe bowl now) back into the roasting pan – remember 2 tablespoons of fat drippings for each cup of gravy you want to make.

Start your Burners
Add 2 tablespoons of flour to each two tablespoons of drippings you just added. Make sure the flame is on low. Whisk away to your heart's content at this point. You will want to cook off the flour for at least 2 to 4 minutes of cooking time. You do not want it to scorch this mixture though - hence why I did say keep the flame low, adjust yours now accordingly, thanks, we can now all continue.

Adding the Liquids
Add a ½ cup of liquid to start. Immediately start whisking. This is the imperative and most important part of the gravy making process. Let the liquid meld into the flour mixture. Add more accordingly. After each addition, let the mixture thicken at each stage of adding liquid. Once you get about three cups in, you can now add the rest all at once. It was simply important to get the first stage of the adding liquid part to have the initial part of the gravy thickened.

Preferences Please
I would not normally leave the gravy alone at this moment. I would be whisking pretty much the whole time. Slowly of course – don't tire yourself out – great time to get assistance at this stage – like a teenager with nothing else to do but text their way through the feast you worked so hard all day on – or of course then there's that too helpful relative that needs something to do to get out of your hair for just one moment! Grab them now to help "the continue to whisk till you drop" stage of the gravy making process. You can at this stage put up the heat to get your mixture to its boiling point. If you let it sit and not whisk– only the bottom liquids will thicken, and hence the beginning of your lumpy gravy disaster once you realize this. (And hence, what the strainer's for in case of emergency.)

Boiling Yet?
If a yes, put the burner way down on low at this point. You want your gravy to simmer for 5 minutes at least. Now is a good time to add your fresh herbs you wished to try, taste for need of salt and pepper. Once the gravy has met its boiling point – note that the gravy will thicken upon standing. After this, your gravy is ready – Welcome to the Gravy Train!

Have You a Too Thin Gravy Mishap?
Quick, without anyone looking, grab a teacup or other small vessel. Add 1-2 tablespoons of flour, add 2 tablespoons of cold water, stir with fork till all lumps are finito and mixture resembles Elmer's Glue – Add this into too thin gravy, whisk immediately, up the column on the burner, and whisk. Let it get to the boiling point, then return step above.

What About a Too Thick Gravy Mishap?
This can happen when you may have put too much flour in or when you return back to the kitchen to get more for seconds or thirds and the gravy has cooled down and is not a thick mess with a skin layer. You can simply add more liquid slowly at first, a little at a time, yes, get that whisk out, and stir away while allowing the gravy to reheat. It should thin out just lovely, thank you.

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