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Is there a gravy doctor in the house? North Star Diner's Casey Johnson solves your gravy quandaries this holiday season with three recipes for carnivore and omnivore pallets.

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Ah, gravy: the great mystery of Thanksgiving. Delicious gravy eludes even turkey pros--too greasy, too lumpy, aargh! But, what's Thanksgiving dinner without a stunning, steaming, smothering gravy?

Growing up in my house, there was only ever one person, my Aunt Jane, who we trusted to make the gravy. Our undisputed Gravy Master could obliterate the lumps and overcome the grease-separation-anxiety with the best of them, rendering a saucy goodness that pulled the side dishes and stuffing together seamlessly.

These days, with so many of us vegetarians and vegans, the mystery of great gravy becomes even more complex. How do we bring this holiday meal staple home for friends and "family who are rooted in diverse nutritional lifestyles? And why should we miss out on the deliciousness? Fortunately, you don't have to suffer through the pain of being gravy-less with the following tips and recipes:

The first trick to groovy gravy: make a roux. Banish cornstarch from your mind! Without that roux, no gravy will warrant a smothering over your Thanksgiving delights. And the trick to a good roux is timing ... making sure you don't let the ingredients boil too quickly, and that you don't add the liquid too quickly, either. Since gravy is inevitably the last menu item to be prepared, we're so ready for the cooking process to end and the feasting to begin it's difficult to resist rushing it. But don't let hunger bite you in the behind.
TRADITIONAL TURKEY GRAVY

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Ingredients:

2 tbs all-purpose flour, sifted
Salt and pepper to taste
Warmed milk or cream to taste
Pan drippings in original roasting pan

Instructions:

Remove your perfect turkey from the roasting pan and
set aside. Set the roasting pan (with pan drippings)
over two adjacent burners on medium-high heat.
As drippings begin to boil softly, quickly whisk * in
flour using large, circular strokes, to be sure the flour
absorbs the liquid. When roux is thick, right before
it begins to boil, slowly whisk in heated milk/cream
to taste. Bring gravy up to a boil and reduce heat to a
simmer immediately after boiling.


* Since the roasting pan is large, initially you should whisk ingredients over where the heat is. The gravy will ultimately, be a big enough yield to cover the entire pan, but a roux will only form over heat.
VEGETARIAN HERB-CREAM GRAVY

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Ingredients:

1 heaping tsp of each of the following fresh, freely
chopped herbs: Italian parsley, basil, sage, scallions,
oregano and thyme
1 cup unsalted butter
2 cups heavy whipping cream, warmed
3 cups 2% milk, warmed
1/4 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
Pinch white pepper
Salt to taste

Instructions:

Melt butter in large skillet on medium heat. Add herbs
and "sweat" them (another word for "fry") for four
minutes. Bring heat to high and whisk in the flour.
Continuing on high heat, when a stiff roux forms,
slowly whisk in a fourth of a cup of cream. When the
cream is incorporated and begins to bubble at edges,
slowly whisk in another haft of a cup of cream. When
incorporated, add the rest of the cream and milk and
bring down to a simmer. When thick enough (about
two or three minutes), turn off heat. Add salt and
pepper to taste.

VEGAN TOMATO GRAVY

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Ingredients:

1/2 cup olive oil
1 cup yellow onion, diced
1 bay leaf
1/4 tbs dried thyme
1/2 tbs dried basil
1 cup all-purpose flour, sifted
4 cups canned tomatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
1/8 tbs granulated sugar

Instructions:

In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium-high
heat. Saute onions, thyme, basil and bay leaf until
onions are translucent. Whisk in flour to make a roux
and cook three minutes longer. Add tomatoes. Stir
well, making sure roux is scrapped off bottom of pan.
Cook over medium heat until all tomatoes are broken
down. Check consistency at this point and thin with
vegetable stock if necessary. Remove from heat. Add
salt and pepper to taste. Stir in the sugar last.


Casey Johnson is the general manager of North Star Diner in Weaverville, NC, and was previously the manager of their sister restaurant, Early Girl Eatery (www.earlygirleatery.com). She has worked for owners John and Julie Stehling for over three years, chiefly because of their commitment to localism and providing guests with comforting, healthful food. Look for all three gravies on the restaurant's menu.
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Article Details
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Title Annotation:soul kitchen
Author:Johnson, Casey
Publication:New Life Journal
Date:Nov 1, 2007
Words:740
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