Eight steps to perfect Thanksgiving gravy
Let’s face it – the bird takes center stage. Whether you love the white meat, dark or both, chances are you’ll ladle it with homemade gravy and vow to get back on your diet tomorrow.Bird is the word, and most of us will prepare a traditional turkey for the feast. Oven roasting remains the standard, followed closely by deep frying and smoking. Deep-frying is not for amateurs. If you are intrigued but untrained, please invite a professional chef to help you. Too many Thanksgiving dinners have been ruined with charred birds, to say nothing of the danger to your home.Smoking or deep frying will require special equipment and you’ll miss out on the flavorful drippings for gravy – the solution is oven roast one bird and experiment with another technique for your second bird. No one will complain about having more leftovers!Choose your bird wisely. Yes, generic birds are abundant and tasty. But try an organic bird this year or better yet, seek out a heritage turkey. The aptly named heritage turkeys are the ancestors of the familiar broad-breasted American turkey. Heritage breeds are the wild birds of the pilgrims’ Thanksgivings. You may have to order one well in advance, but you’ll be rewarded with deep, flavorful meat. Heritage or familiar, the juices from your roasting turkey will provide the essential base of a perfect gravy. Follow these eight steps to master the king sauce of Thanksgiving.Thanksgiving Gravy1 turkey neck, membrane removed1 elk sausage (optional)1 celery stalk, chopped1 carrot, chopped1/2 onion, chopped10 black peppercorns1 bunch fresh parsley1 sprig fresh rosemary1 bay leaves1 cup dry white wine8 cups water1. Gravy starts with flavorful pan drippings from your roasting bird, so baste often, and add 1/2 cup dry white wine to the pan juices.2. While the turkey is roasting, combine the neck, celery, carrot, onion and black peppercorns in a large saucepan. Add 8 cups water and a bouquet garni (parsley, rosemary and bayleaves, wrapped and tied in cheesecloth.) Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until liquid is reduced by 1/2 about an hour. Jose Calvo recommends adding elk sausage to the simmer for deeper flavor. 3. Strain through a fine mesh sieve, discard solids, set stock aside. When turkey is finished roasting, remove bird to platter but keep pan drippings in the roasting pan.4. Combine 1/4 cup flour and 1 cup stock in a small bowl. Whisk till smooth and no lumps remain. 5. Pour the pan drippings into a fat separator. Let the fat rise above the juices, about 10 minutes. (If you don’t have this handy piece of equipment, get another pair of hands to help you pour the drippings through a funnel into a disposable plastic water bottle. When the fat has risen to the top, cut a whole in the bottom of the bottle, and allow the drippings to release, stopping while fat is still in the bottle.)6. Meanwhile, set the roasting pan across two burners on the stove and pour in 1/2 cup dry white wine. Bring to a boil over medium high heat, scraping up brown bits clinging to pan. 7. Whisk in the flour/water slurry and remaining stock. Pour in the separated pan juices. Bring to a boil and cook, whisking until thickened, 10-15 minutes. 8. Right before serving, strain through a fine sieve. Season with freshly cracked pepper and sea salt. Makes about 2 cups.Sue Barham is the director of sales and marketing at Cima, opening this month in The Westin Riverfront Resort & Spa. The newest restaurant concept from international chef Richard Sandoval, Cima is a contemporary Latin kitchen, featuring bold, vibrant flavors with Latino roots, fresh ingredients and global cooking techniques. Visit http://www.richardsandoval.com.