Sunday, 30 September 2012

Turkey Gravy

Well, kiss the summer goodbye. Back to trying to match socks as they come out of the dryer, and say hello to the days of three mystery socks always hanging off the side of the laundry basket waiting for their elusive partners to appear in the next load. Which never happens. And along with fall comes Thanksgiving. ie Thanksgiving Dinner with the WHOLE family present! I always think of Thanksgiving as a practice run for Christmas Dinner, but just without the shopping and the treacherous driving conditions.
As a young homemaker, my first year hosting the Thanksgiving Dinner literally paralyzed me with fear! I had no idea what was involved, but we had just bought a beautiful house in the country and had our two beautiful girls who later became to be known as The Ladygirls, so I was sure I had all the accoutrement required and away to work I went. I bought a frozen turkey and two fall mums at the garden centre and figured "what more can there be involved than that?" Hahaha Silly Me! And back then I made my own pastry for my homemade pies and I believe my official spice cupboard was born that year. Who knew there was any such thing as poultry seasoning and sage and thyme and lard and pie pans and turkey roasters and platters and basters and you name it! And there was no internet to guide you along with images and help. All I had was my "too busy working mother"! It's overwhelming to say the least. So we'll take this in stages. I stupidly attempted a four course meal that year. Vichysoisse to start. Then I made a cold sort of salad of Belgian endive stuffed with an herbed cream cheese and walnut oil dressing, turkey with all the fixings and three different homemade pies. What a dope I was to attempt all that with two small babies and living in the country where nothing other than potatoes and carrots could be found at the local store. But I'm pretty sure it turned out just fine. Or maybe that's the wine talking. I don't know for sure.
So baby steps, and here is how to make gravy. I'll walk you through the stuffing and everything else in the next post.
Once your turkey is cooked (and you'll know because your whole house will smell like a wonderful turkey dinner), take it out of the pan and cover it with tin foil on your cutting board. Pour all of the drippings in the bottom of the pan into a large Mason jar. After a minute or so, all of the fat will rise to the top of the jar.
Now some lucky people own a Gravy Separator. Use that if you have one. But I do it the old fashioned way. Ladle out 3 tablespoons of the fat off the top and put it into a saucepan on Med heat. When it bubbles up, whisk in 3 tablespoons of flour and keep whisking it for at least 6 or 7 minutes until it turns golden brown. Add some freshly ground pepper at this point, but no salt yet. Ladle off the rest of the fat from your Mason jar and discard it until you're left with just the broth. Add the broth to your roux and keep whisking until it comes up to the simmer. If it's too thick, add a bit of water from one of your vegetable pots such as your carrots. Just a bit at a time to thin it down. If it isn't thick enough, you have to make a slurry. Don't be afraid. That's just food terminology for saying - Pour a half a cup of lukewarm water and add 2 tablespoons of flour and stir it around with a fork until no lumps are left and whisk your slurry into your gravy. This will thicken it up. Taste your gravy and add salt if you need it. Now turn off the heat. Always make your gravy just before you plan to serve the dinner. As you set out the food, whisk it once in a while to break up the skin that will form on it. The gravy will be the last thing you put on the table.
Take note though - the gravy can (and will) make or break a turkey dinner. The flavour will all come from your drippings, but the consistency is up to you. If you don't have enough gravy to feed a crowd, simply whisk in 2 cups of chicken broth. It's pretty easy. If you love gravy, then you'll know if its any good or not. So take the time to adjust it and thrill your guests! And for God sake, don't use that stuff in the package you see on the television. That's just silly and it won't taste nearly as good as the stuff you make yourself! Next stop - Turkey Stuffing!

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