Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Gravy (and the rest of Thanksgiving in photos)

I know I'm a few weeks late with this and everyone is now onto thinking about other holidays, but I needed to talk for a few minutes about my Thanksgiving gravy.

My Thanksgiving gravy was AMAZING.

Gravy has always been a bit of my arch nemesis on Thanksgiving because I do a dairy-free t-day and everyone seems to write recipes filled with butter and cream.  I decided to forgo everything I read and just go with my own knowledge and experience.

When I grill my turkey, I put it in a roasting pan (this is because without a roasting pan your grill will catch on fire.  Trust me on this one.) and then fill the pan about a third of the way up with apple cider.  As the turkey cooks, I refill the cider once or twice.  The turkey steams in the cider and tastes even more delicious.

What I did to make the gravy this year was to take the neck, giblets and heart and put them in a saucepan covered in a mixture of water, boxed mushroom broth and fresh apple cider.  I don't know the exact amounts, but it was enough to more than cover the meat.  Then I brought it to a boil and let it simmer.  For a long time.  At some point I added some leftover chopped onion from the day before and a bunch of thyme that was also leftover.

When we cleaned out the second turkey, I added the innards from that one and more of the same liquids, brought it to a boil and let it simmer again.  For a long time.

When I took the turkey off the grill (early, of course, because my turkeys are always done early), I took out the innards I had been cooking and added the liquid from the bottom of the pan, which was now apple cider and turkey grease.  It was delicious.  I strained the liquid through a mesh strainer and syphoned off most of the fat.  I used the ice cube trick my grandma taught me.

Once it was strained and defatted, I put it back in the pan and whisked in about two tablespoons of flour.  Then I let it simmer again.  For a long time.

Eventually, as it was getting close to time to eat, I added about a tablespoon of cornstarch.  I now know, from watching Paula Deen, that I should have whisked the cornstarch into something cold and then added that so it wouldn't clump, but because I didn't know that, I just whisked extra hard to get the clumps out.

I let it simmer until it was time to eat and it was delicious.  It was a little bit sweet from the cider and a little bit salty from the meat and the consistency was outstanding.  I was very proud of myself.  I might have eaten some on pasta two nights later, but I'd never tell...

The gravy creation:
This glamorous picture was taken early on in the gravy-making process.  Don't I look adorable?

I cleaned up for the grease-syphoning part.

And lacked confidence for the flour-whisking.

Here are some other fun turkey-day highlights:
My absurdly adorable nieces trying on their turkey hats
The turkey was tender enough to fall off the bone before carving.

Some of the sides (i.e. what we use the oven for on Thanksgiving)
This awesome chocolate pumpkin no-bake thing my chocolatier brother concocted.
Walk on the beach post-meal, pre-dessert (that's the dog, not the Loch Ness Monster, though I can see the confusion)
The answer to the question of whether I had a good time on Thanksgiving.
(Though I swear one of those was for someone else.)

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