December 29, 2005


The essential gravy Mastering the art of flavorful gravy (Russ Parsons, 12/29/05, Los Angeles Times)

There are few foods on the holiday table that carry the mystique of gravy. At its most basic level, it's nothing more than a paste of flour and fat thinned with turkey stock, yet it somehow has the capacity to strike fear in otherwise brave-hearted cooks.

Granted, there are enough bad gravies out there to give a cook pause. But making a good gravy — one that tastes of turkey essence and not flour and that lightly naps the food rather than smothering it — is only a little more complicated than stirring together a white sauce. [...]

The most critical phase of making gravy is right at the start, when you make the paste and add the first bit of liquid to it. This is what makes the difference between a gravy that is silky and one that is lumpy. After that, everything is easy. [...]

Giblet gravy

Total time: 45 minutes plus stock-simmering time
Servings: Makes about 3 cups

1 onion, quartered
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup chopped celery
Assorted turkey pieces — neck, wingtips, tail, gizzard and heart (but not the liver)
1 bay leaf
1 bunch (about 14 sprigs) parsley
1 sprig fresh thyme
1/4 cup fat skimmed from roasting pan, with butter added if necessary to make 1/4 cup
1/4 cup flour
Salt to taste
1/4 tsp. powdered sage (if serving sage dressing)
Freshly ground black pepper

1. In a large saucepan, combine the onion, carrot, celery, turkey pieces, 6 cups water, the bay leaf, parsley and thyme. Bring to a simmer, partially cover and cook for at least 2 hours.

2. After cooking, strain the stock into a measuring cup. You'll need about 3 1/2 to 4 cups of stock. Peel the tough skin from the gizzard; chop the gizzard and heart finely. Set aside.

3. When the turkey comes out of the oven, remove it to a platter to rest. Place the roasting pan over a burner set to high. Remove any garlic, onions, herbs or aromatics with a slotted spoon and discard. Let the pan sizzle for a minute; add the stock, scraping the pan with a wooden spoon to free any browned bits.

4. Pour this mixture into a fat separator or back into the measuring cup and set aside for a couple of minutes to let the fat separate.

5. In a saucepan over medium heat, add one-fourth cup skimmed fat or whatever amount of fat you have plus enough melted butter to make about one-fourth cup. Whisk in the flour and let it cook for 1 to 2 minutes, whisking constantly.

6. Slowly add 1 cup of stock, whisking constantly, being careful to add as little of the top layer of fat as you can. The sauce will thicken almost immediately. Gradually add more stock, about 1 cup at a time, whisking until the gravy is just thick enough to coat the back of a spoon.

7. When all of the stock has been added, season to taste with salt, sage and a couple of grinds of black pepper. Simmer over low heat for 15 minutes to cook out the taste of the raw flour. Occasionally, use a large soup spoon to skim off the skin of protein that forms on the top.

8. About 5 minutes before serving, stir in the chopped giblets. Ladle into a warmed gravy boat.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 29, 2005 6:52 AM
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