Be a hero and learn to make gravy. Friends don’t let friends eat it from a jar.
Gravy all winter
Cooking seasonally isn’t just about following the growing year. It’s also about living up to expectations. As soon as temperatures headed south I start turning out one of my all-time favorite sandwiches, the Spiced-Up Grilled Cheese from Amy’s Bread. That sandwich reminds me of lunch on the Upper East Side with my friends at my first job. In the same way, chicken pot pie reminds me of winter at home in New Jersey. Sure they were the crappy microwaved ones from the supermarket or wholesale club, but I had a happy home life. Even if you don’t have similar associations, chicken with gravy is a homey, warm dinner for the cold months.
Gravy is simple sauce
At its simplest, poultry gravy is concentrated bird juices thickened with a roux. I like to do a little more with it, but once you get the logic the condiment has a way of recommending itself in your time of need. For example, I made a chicken gravy last week, basically in the way described below. My wife said she was really hungry and I was staring down leftover roasted chicken with no ideas. I squeaked by with chicken with gravy, roasted carrots, and buttered noodles. A good save. If I’d had time I would have made biscuits for a faux “chicken pot pie.”
Nowadays I withhold aromatics until I make sauce. A plainer stock is more versatile.
- 1.5 parts water
- 1 part turkey
- 1 bay leaf per 6 kg of turkey
- Brown the turkey in a pan. Remove to a pressure cooker. Deglaze using the aromatics or some of the water. If using aromatics, sweat. Add contents of pan to the pressure cooker. Fill with (remaining) water and pressure cooker for 45 minutes, natural release.
- Strain stock and degrease.
Roast the vegetables while the stock cooks. I realize the recipe is a little weird. But as someone who cooks both Western and Eastern dishes, I prefer flexibility in my sauce base over convenience. I don’t think thyme belongs in my Filipino dishes. Also, splitting up the cooking gives you time to think when you most need it: at the beginning of your cooking time. This is important for those nights you have no ideas. Because the flavors are added gradually, instead of put together all at the beginning, the recipe also demonstrates how more complex flavors are built from simpler ones.
Obviously if you plan on making gravy only once a year, someone else’s more compact recipe may do. But I recommend cooking this way at least once. I’ve learned a lot by constructing sauces piecemeal like this.
- 1 tbsp butter
- 1 tbsp flour
- White wine, to taste
- 1 onion
- 1 carrot
- 1 stalk celery
- Pinch dried thyme
- Black pepper
- Turkey stock
- Turkey pan drippings
- Chop the vegetables and roast in a hot oven. Broil at the end of cooking if necessary to get good browning.
- Reduce 1/2 cup white wine in a sauce pan until most of the water has evaporated. Pour off and reserve.
- In the same pan, cook a roux with the butter and flour. Deglaze with stock and degreased drippings. Whisk. Reduce. Add white wine reduction a little at a time while reducing.
- At the same time, simmer the roasted vegetables and dried thyme in a minimum amount of water. Add it (the vegetable water, not the vegetables) to the gravy to taste while it cooks.
- When gravy has proper consistency and tastes good to you, correct salt and grind in black pepper as desired.