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Posts Tagged ‘gravy’

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This was the main course following French Onion Soup.  The two worked well together as a satisfying Sunday supper.  My neighbour happened to stop in because her little ones wanted to play with my little ones.  She gave the soup and pork two thumbs up!  (I’m sure if she had more thumbs they would have been up too)

I don’t know if Julia Child would have served the pork loin on a squeaky bed of green beans, but I thought it worked quite well for presentation.

The pork was marinated in a rub of garlic, thyme, salt and pepper for 24 hours in a plastic bag in the fridge.  I used about twice the amounts called for, I was nervous that the pork would be, well like pork.  No flavor.  Dry.  Pork.  I think the reason my pork chops are always tough and dry as the west of Texas, is due to my over cooking them.  It’s also a factor of cut, the tenderloin (as the name so implies) is tender and moist when handled with care.

Roasting will not take very long, so this is a great meal any night of the week.  Just be mindful of the marinade time.  Roast covered loosely, for 30 – 35 minutes.  Uncover the tenderloin and continue to roast until the internal temperature is 145-150ºF.   Let the meat rest as you prepare the pan gravy.

Place the roasting pan on the stove, if it is safe to use on the stove top otherwise transfer to another pot over medium heat.  Add  1 cup or so of stock and scrape the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.  Dissolve 2 Tbsp of cornstarch in about 3 Tbsp of cool water and stir it in.  Let the gravy bubble for about 30 seconds to activate the starch, then reduce to low for a minute.  The sauce should be fairly thin but holds to the back of a spoon.

As suggested in the photo, serve over a bed of steamed green beans and garnish with fresh chives.

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Little Sister helped make the gravy, it was strenuous work for a two year old…

The gravy making was enjoyable for both of us, unlike the day before when we were making lunch and she poured the dry pasta into the cup of milk standing by.  She must have misunderstood me when I said “next we add the pasta”, she litterally added the pasta to the milk and butter in the cup.  I meant to say “next we cook the pasta”.  Toddlers and young children take everything you say to heart, so chose words wisely!

325ºF for 3 hours (14.5 lb gobbler)

  • 4 Tbsp butter, at room temperature
  • 6 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 2 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 2 tsp rubbed sage or fresh chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/2 tsp caraway seeds

Combine the butter and herbs and spices in a small bowl.  I like to work it with my fingers to get every bit of butter spiked with flavour.  Create pockets under the skin of the turkey, begin at the breasts near the cavity.  Try to make the skin loose around the drumsticks too.  Evenly shove the butter into the pockets, pressing on the outside of the skin to distribute.  Any leftover butter and be smeared over the skin.

Next, fill the cavity.  I don’t usually stuff the bird with dressing, instead I use large pieces of onion, whole herbs and spices, sometimes citrus fruit cut in half.  The filling will eventually scent the broth so choose a complimentary set of flavours.  Today I used fresh rosemary springs and half a white onion with salt and pepper.

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It’s a rare thing these days, buying stock in a box or can.  Before the holidays arrive full of turkey, chicken, and family members visiting I spend time to prepare and freeze stock.

Stock will keep in sealed containers in the freezer for about 6 months.  Make sure to label anything you freeze for later use.  Portions that are easier to manage are a good idea.  Most of my containers hold 2 pints (about 4 cups), I use this as soup and stew base.  Smaller containers, even freezer bags, work well for gravy.  Sometimes when you roast drier types or cuts of meat, there’s not a heck of a lot liquid left in the pan.  That’s where a bit of stock can extend or replace the pan drippings when making gravy.

To make your stock you need any of the following vegetables, spices and herbs:

  • celery
  • leek
  • onion
  • carrots
  • bay leaves
  • black peppercorns
  • cardamom pods
  • cumin seeds
  • caraway seeds
  • dill
  • fennel
  • rosemary
  • thyme

Then, if you want meat you can collect chicken, turkey or pork bones and freeze them in freezer ziptop bags until you have enough to make stock.  When I buy whole chickens, I save the neck, wings, and legs.  Either roasted or raw, freeze the extra bits for your stock.  Bone marrow helps add richness to the stock.  Beef can be used too, we just don’t have many beef bones leftover at my house!

Salt, should you add any at all, should be minimal.  The stock is a component for something else, the destination might already contain salt so you don’t want to end up with sea water soup.

Ready?  Throw the chunks of veggies, palm full of seasonings, the optional meat components into the biggest pot you own.  Add water until everything is covered.  Bring to a boil slowly, then reduce to low heat for an hour or longer.  The longer you simmer the stock, the more concentrated it will be due to evaporation.

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It was one of those nights where the kids were eating everything in sight and I couldn’t make heads or tails out of what to make for dinner. Even though the kids were probably going to be full by the time this was accomplished.

Left overs are often inspiration to my dinners. Tonight was no exception. Gravy was lingering in the fridge from a Sunday chicken. Use it or toss it? Being the frugal pack-rat I am, I opted to use the gravy to make myself a plate of poutine. This was also an opportunity to use my mandolin 🙂 I believe poutine originated in eastern Canada, in the French dominant province of Quebec, hence the French term for it. If you visit Montreal, you need to find authentic poutine. It looks like a heart attack on a plate: fries, gravy (the brown kind), and cheese curds. I’ve seen variations that include bacon and well, nearly a whole meal piled up on the heap of freshly fried potatoes. If you are a poutine virgin, I suggest to start out easy!

Poutine traces back to my high school days. We had a cafeteria which was run by the home economics department, which was the teacher and only cook at the school. Everyday students would help in the kitchen to serve their comrades a ration of food for those with allowances or summer jobs around the farms of the community. I saved every penny earned to treat myself to a hot gooey cheesy plate of poutine. Often this teenage delicacy was shared with a close friend. Those were the days before I ever cared about calories, you spent most of any excess by shivering in the cold waiting for a bus to take you from the outskirts of town to school and back. (It wasn’t cool to wear appropriate winter gear in -25C)

I loved poutine so much that I nearly had a heart attack when I found out Texas had no idea what this sinful dish was. None. Whatsoever. Until, I found a pack of my own kind in amongst the urban Texas landscape. The C.I.A. or Canadians in Austin. I’m saved! I towed hubby along to a C.I.A. celebration where they promised Beer and Poutine. It was either Canada Day or Grey Cup, can’t quite recall (probably due to the copious amount of poutine consumed – fat overload). But boy was it GOOD!

Now I sit alone in a corner of my house with a Pepsi and my poutine. While it lacks the authentic cheese curds, it’s still a welcome treat.

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Since we are a few hours away from Turkey Day, I decided to test out a new combination of flavours for roasted birds.  This was prepared with a whole chicken, but you could easily bump up the quantities for a larger turkey.

Mise en place: Roasting pan, cookie sheet, paper towel, foil, room temperature butter, apple, onion, celery, carrot, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, cinnamon stick, sage leaves and/or dried, salt, pepper, all-purpose flour, measuring cup (Pyrex glass 2 cup measure), whisk and wooden spoon.  Crank up the oven to 430ºF.

First, prepare the bird, same goes for a turkey.  Wash the bird under cool running water, remove any reminence of feathers.  I like to do a lipo job to remove those clusters of solid fat, do this carefully with a small sharp knife while the bird is on a flat surface (cookie sheet).  If you’re not up to this part, leave it alone, I want you to keep your fingers intact.  Discard the excess fat, and flaps of skin next to the thighs.  Pat dry with paper towel, inside and out.  One more step before you go wash your hands: loosen the skin away from the breast meat and legs.  Now wash up!

To the roasting pan, add the spices.  Use about a tablespoon of coriander and cumin seeds along with the cinnamon stick and a couple of sage leaves.  Using whole spices is important here because we want to strain them out to make a gravy later.  If you have a strainer that can separate tiny grains of ground spices, let me know where I can buy one.  Roughly chop the onion, celery (include the leafy tops!), apple, and carrots.  The bigger the pieces are, the longer it will take for them to cook, and they will act as the rack for the bird.  Add them in one layer and a cup or two of water (or white wine if you have it, take it up a notch!).  Sprinkle with salt and pepper, season each layer my friends!

Using half of an apple, I used green, dice it into about 1 inch pieces then sprinkle liberally with salt and pepper.  Stuff the apple and a couple more sage leaves into the cavity of the bird.

Next is the compound butter.  Simply mix about 2 tablespoons of room temperature butter with a palmful of dried sage, salt and pepper.  If your butter becomes too warm just pop it into the freezer for a few minutes so that you can work with it.  Remember those pockets of fat you removed from the bird?  We are replacing those with this flavoured butter.  Shove 1/4 of the butter into the space between the skin and the meat, repeat on the other side with another 1/4 of the butter.  The remaining half of the compound butter goes on the skin, all over the entire bird.

Move the bird to the roasting pan using the neck hole and breast plate as handles, otherwise you might lose the butter encased bird to the floor.  Tuck the wing tips under.  I did not truss this bird and sometimes you don’t really need to.  The bonus is all that skin between the legs and breast gets crispy because it’s not squished together and shielded from the heat of the oven.

Place the pan in the oven, legs pointing to the back of the oven.  Don’t open the door, this is important: keep the heat and steam inside the oven.  The more you open the door to check on the bird, the more vapour escapes, therefore causing dry-bird-syndrome.  Leave it alone for a while, set a timer for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, check for browning of the skin, look through the glass of the oven door.  Try not to open it.  If you see some nice golden brown, turn down the oven to 350ºF.  Let it roast another 20 minutes. 

Carefully open the door with your body away from the oven.  The steam will give you an unwanted facial if you’re not careful.  Take birdy’s temperature in a thick part of the breast without touching any bones, I use the area near the wings, equivalent to pectorals I guess.  Don’t puncture the top of the bird in the middle of the breast, all the juices will run out (DBS!).  The pectoral should read 160ºF, thighs 180ºF.  Shy by ten degrees? Roast for about 20 more minutes. 

If you have reached the correct temperature, remove the pan from the oven.  Place birdy on a cutting board and tent loosely with foil.  Let birdy rest before carving, let the juices redistribute! 

I have a wee one in the house and if you are a thrifty mama like me, you’ll want to save those carrots and apples from the pan to blend up for your sweet baby.  I even left some celery in the mix, although the strings did a number on my blender!  Fair warning for you.

Gravy!  Life would not be complete without gravy.  Strain the cooking liquid from the pan and separate the grease.  Take note of how many tablespoons of grease you have collected, measure an equal amount of flour.  Add the grease and flour to the pan (you can use another pot) and stir quickly to cook the flour.   Add the rest of the liquid and whisk.  Bring the gravy to a slow boil, cook until the flour is no longer tasted and the gravy coats the back of a spoon.  Now is the time to season with salt and pepper to taste.

Carve and enjoy with your favorite sides.  I made Unstuffing, acorn squash, crescent rolls, and peas to accompany birdy.  Now I’m ready for the big bird!

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Check out Food52 and vote for my Pot Roast Gravy and enter your best gravy!

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