Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Panic and Despair?

The prospect of having to make the gravy has been known to send people into panic and despair. I’m not sure how gravy acquired its difficult reputation, because, it’s just not that hard! Yes, gravy takes planning and patience and a successful outcome is contingent on those factors. But, panic and despair—hardly!

There are a number of ways to make gravy. In recent years, I’ve been experimenting with making a rich flavorful gravy without all the fat. Gravy made with butter or drippings that have not been defatted tastes great, but it’s a heart attack on a plate.

This gravy has all the flavor with a fraction of the fat. It is made with stock and thickened the old fashioned New England way with milk and flour. This recipe uses giblet stock, but can be adapted for beef, pork, or vegetable just by using beef, pork or vegetable stock. Regular chicken stock can also be used.

Giblet stock is demonstrated here as this gravy was made using the giblets from our Thanksgiving turkey. Drippings can also be used and will improve the flavor of your gravy. It is important to skim off as much fat as possible from the drippings. Scrape them into a tallish pan and use a ladle to skim off the fat. If there is time, place the drippings in the refrigerator or freezer where the fat will congeal and rise to the surface making removal easier. If you make the gravy in the roasting pan, strain it through a sieve to remove any solids before serving. Most importantly, add the milk and flour mixture before the stock becomes too hot. This will ensure that the flour thickens the gravy as intended rather than cooking or clumping.

"Light-Hearted" New England Style Gravy


Giblets and neck from a chicken or turkey

1 small carrot

1 small onion stuck with 3 whole cloves

1 bay leaf

1 stalk celery with leaves

4 whole black peppercorns


1-1/4 c. milk

2/3 c. flour

4 c. giblet stock

Pan drippings

Kosher salt

A good grind of white pepper

Place the ingredients in a 2-quart pot and cover with water. Place on the stove and turn burner to high. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer several hours. Allow stock to reduce to about 4 cups. When the stock has simmered for several hours, has reduced sufficiently and is strong in flavor, remove from heat. Place a colander over a 1-quart pot. Strain the stock into the pot. Set the giblets aside for addition to soup stock.

Measure the milk and flour into a small bowl and mix with a whisk. Mix until the mixture is smooth and free of lumps. Place the pot containing the stock on the stove and turn the burner to medium low. Whisk in the milk and flour mixture and the defatted drippings, if using. Gently reheat whisking constantly. Do not allow the gravy to boil. When the gravy has thickened sufficiently, adjust seasoning and pour into a heated gravy boat and serve.

If the gravy requires additional thickener, remove ½ cup of gravy from the pan and place in a bowl. Whisk in 2 tablespoons of flour until the mixture is smooth. Add more gravy from the pan into this mixture and whisk until smooth. Carefully whisk this mixture into the gravy, whisking until the gravy is smooth and sufficiently thickened. If necessary strain the gravy through a sieve to remove any lumps before serving.

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