Milo-photo, Wikimedia Commons
Slices of succulent roast turkey, enhanced with homemade gravy and some taters alongside.
While gravy is not a meal in itself, at least not for most of us, it sure adds something special to certain foods, such as a nice beef or pork roast, mashed potatoes, turkey and dressing, and even biscuits and sausage.
I am not sure what inspired me to think about gravy for this week, unless it’s just because I could go for some old-fashioned, home style biscuits and gravy right now. Or it could be the delicious memory of those hot, open-faced turkey sandwiches drenched in gravy I made after Thanksgiving, a treat I think we enjoyed more than the main meal. Whatever it was that inspired me to write about gravy, I am betting there are quite a few folks who also have an appreciation for it in one form or another.
Let’s get right to some recipes, and may I add that I hope you are staying warm and dry in all this icy cold rain.
Sausage gravy for biscuits
1/2 pound bulk pork sausage (or Italian sausage with casings removed, if you prefer)
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups whole milk
Kosher salt, to taste
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Biscuits, for serving
1. In a medium skillet over medium heat, cook sausage until no pink remains, 8 to 10 minutes.
2. Sprinkle with flour and cook 1 minute, stirring. While still stirring, slowly add milk and bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until thick, about 5 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and cayenne.
3. Remove from heat and serve on top of split, warm biscuits. Makes 4 servings.
Quick beef gravy
If you do not have drippings from roasting some beef, you can still make a decent gravy using some moist beef bouillon. Also, you can thicken it with either flour or cornstarch, depending on if you like a more silky, translucent gravy or one more opaque, like flour would make. You would need to cook a gravy made with flour a little longer than with cornstarch, to make sure the taste of the flour is not too obvious.
2 cups canned beef broth
3 to 4 teaspoons Better than Bouillon Beef Base
1/4 cup cold water
2 tablespoons cornstarch (or flour, if you prefer)
1. Bring beef drippings or broth to a boil in a medium saucepan. Once boiling, reduce to medium heat and allow the broth to simmer.
2. Add the beef base or bouillon, stirring to dissolve. Taste and see that the stock has the level of beefiness you want. If not, you can add more, one teaspoon at a time.
3. Continue on medium heat and let the broth simmer while you make the cornstarch slurry.
4. Dissolve the cornstarch in the cold water to create a smooth slurry. The water must be cold to prevent lumps in the gravy.
5. Slowly whisk the slurry into the broth and continue stirring until the mixture is smooth and begins to thicken.
6. Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes; serve while hot. Makes about 2 1/4 cups.
As for a chicken pot pie, for example. This is a handy recipe if you are serving individual frozen chicken or turkey pot pies, to dress them up a little. Or add some chopped cooked chicken and cooked mixed vegetables to the sauce and serve over toast or English muffins for a quick meal.
4 cups milk
4 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup flour
1 chicken stock cube (or equivalent of powder form, such as Knorr)
1 sprig thyme, optional
1. In a large saucepan, melt the butter over low heat. Crush the stock cube (or measure out the Knorr powder). Add the crushed stock cube or powder to the melted butter and stir until dissolved.
2. Add the flour, whisking or stirring well and making a smooth paste (roux). Cook the roux for about 2 minutes, stirring it constantly. Slowly add the milk, stirring constantly to prevent any lumps.
3. Add the thyme, if using. Cook sauce over medium heat until it thickens. Cook for one minute. Set aside. Makes enough for about 3 or 4 servings, depending on size.
This has both chicken and beef bouillon in it. Supposedly, it is similar to the gravy served at KFC restaurants, but I can’t vouch for that because I do not eat there. (I just rarely go out).
1 chicken stock cube (or 2 teaspoons powder)
1 beef stock cube (or 2 teaspoons powder)
2 1/2 cups boiling water
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
Salt, to taste (if needed)
1. Crumble cubes into boiling water, mix to dissolve.
2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat.
3. Add flour, onion powder and pepper. Mix into butter with a wooden spoon or whisk.
4. While stirring, slowly pour in half the liquid. Once incorporated into the flour-butter roux (it will thicken quickly), add remaining liquid and mix.
5. Stir for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until it thickens to a gravy consistency (it’s quick as water is already hot). Taste, add more salt and pepper if needed. Makes 6 servings.