Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Good Heavens, but That's Good Gravy.

Gravy making, why does it seem to be so complicated? Growing up, the only gravy I remember having at a meal was at Thanksgiving time; it wasn't homemade, but came out of a can. During my first marriage I would watch my ex-mother-in-law make a slurry of flour, garlic powder and water, pour it into the meat drippings and it would be a lumpy, oily mess. Not very good examples for making my own gravy, and I avoided the issue whenever I could. Thank you, thank you, thank you for whomever invented the crock pot; not just for the easy cooking it afforded the home cook, but for the luscious stock that could be made into a stupendous gravy.

"Impossible!", you say; "Can't make gravy without drippings from roasted meat or poultry!", you say...yep, you can.  First I'll tell you how using the crock pot, and then how from drippings; and without butter, cream or extra flour added.  Now sit back, relax and have a good read...

Scenario: Making pot roast in the a crock pot; put your meat in first, but before you put it in, coat it liberally with flour (this is all you'll need for that gravy later on); put in your veggies, seasonings and then pour two cups of beef stock over it all; cover, set it and forget it till done.  If making chicken, use chicken stock instead, but use the same coating with flour and veggies over the top process.

The meat is done, put it on a platter to rest with 3/4 of the vegetables.  Now looking into the crock pot, you'll see an oily sheen on top; that is the oil that came out of your meat during the cooking process.  Don't worry, we're going to get rid of that easily, but not lose any flavor. 

The liquid inside the pot is also very thin; the flour you coated the meat in wasn't enough to thicken, but just enough to help with the process.  The 1/4 portion of vegetables that you left inside is going to be your true thickener.  What is neat about this is that anyone that refuses to eat their veggies, but loves gravy is going to eat veggies and not even know.  Well they will if you tell them, but we're keeping this a secret, right? Of course, you can leave larger bits of veggies if you like, and no one you're serving to is a problem eater.

Now you all know how I love my immersion blender, but if you still haven't purchased your own (why!!?!!), then a regular blender will do.  Begin pulverizing the vegetables inside the pot, being careful not to raise it too high and splash the liquid around the kitchen.  Not only will the soon to be gravy be thickening up, but you'll see it turn to a rich color; you'll be tempted to serve it as is, but patience grasshopper. 

To get the oil out of your gravy, pour the amount of pureed liquid you need into a plastic container and place into the freezer for one hour.  Take the container out of the freezer and you'll see that the fats have solidified on top; carefully spoon them out and don't forget to scrape it off the sides of the bowl. You will probably have a lot more gravy left over which can be defatted,  frozen and reheated when needed; because you did not use any dairy in its making, the chance of separating is none.  

Now just warm up the gravy and serve with your meal; you shouldn't have to add any seasonings, especially salt which would have come from the stock you initially used when cooking your meat.  Now if you really need to have a smooth gravy, go ahead and strain out all the little bits that the blender could not pulverize.  We like it rustic; it proves that it is homemade, not out of some can or jar.

Ok, now for the roasted part of this post; you're going to need a deep roasting pan for this process.  Either use a rack to lay your meat or poultry on, or a very thick layer of cut up vegetables will work too.  In the pan, lay out all your cut up vegetables and sprinkle a little flour over all of them; pour your stock over all; then place the rack with meat, or the meat itself on top and roast until done.  Now just follow the same gravy making process as I explained for the crock pot; you just might want to transfer your liquid and 1/4 portion to a deep bowl first though.  Oh, don't forget to season your meat or poultry; as the fat melts, it'll take some of the seasoning with it and add it to the veggies down below.

How come I didn't use any water in the crock pot or roasting pan?  The vegetables gave me all I needed; during the cooking process, they sweated out their excess moisture, so adding water at the beginning would have thinned out the gravy way too much at the end.

Making gravy is not so hard after all; just remember to not add any seasonings until after the process is done and you've tasted.  You will be very surprised.  Enjoy!

Mary Cokenour

1 comment: