Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Homemade Gravy

This Thanksgiving, since we are having about 12 people over, I decided to make some extra gravy. Ahead of time, of course. Ina Garten has a fabulous gravy recipe in her Barefoot Contessa Family Style cookbook. It is delicious, doesn't take much prep, and it can be stored for several days. I am making a double batch, two days ahead of Thanksgiving. I don't have any stock stored, so I'll just use canned chicken broth. The recipe is adaptable to different kinds of broth, drippings, etc. Although Ina doesn't list it as an option, I'm sure you could even use vegetable broth if you're a vegetarian.

I will store the gravy right in a crock pot, then sometime before Thanksgiving dinner, I will reheat it. I will still be making my traditional turkey gravy from the drippings, but this will relieve some of the last-minute pressure (largely self-imposed, I admit) of having to make a huge batch of gravy while the crowd is gathering.

Homemade Gravy
Makes 3 cups

At Barefoot Contessa we made thousands of quarts of gravy for people to heat up and serve for dinner. Instead of the chaos that happens when dinner is ready and you still have to make the gravy, why not give yourself a break and make the gravy the day before? If gravy just isn't gravy to you unless it's made with pan drippings, do what I do: when I make a roast, I save the pan drippings in the freezer for the next time I'm making gravy and then I add them to the sauteing onions and butter. It's so much easier! (Just be sure to label the drippings well).

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups chicken stock, preferably homemade, heated
1 tablespoon Cognac or brandy (I've never used this, so I'll say it's optional)
1 tablespoon heavy cream (Ina says this is optional, I'm going to disagree!)

In a large (10- to 12-inch) saute pan, cook the butter and onions on medium-low heat for 12 to 15 minutes, until the onions are lightly browned. Don't rush this step; it makes all the difference when the onions are well cooked.

Sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisk in, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes. Add the hot chicken stock and Cognac, and cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes, until thickened. Add the cream, if desired, and serve.

Gravy can be stored in the refrigerator for several days. Heat it slowly before serving.

Cognac is brandy from the Cognac region of France. Any good brandy will do.

You can substitute beef stock or pan drippings for the 2 cups of chicken stock.

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