Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Good gravy!

OK, here's a question for you: Is gravy really worth all that time it takes to make?

Yesterday, on a lark*, I decided to make myself my very own turkey dinner. It having been Thanksgiving here in the states just last week, this may be a No Brainer to most of you. However, I ate not at Chez Hatchet, but at Chez Hatchet-Inlaws and the food was fantastic! But no turkey. It being turkey season, I wanted to try out the recipe in my Big Ole Book o' Food and so I commanded Eric to go thither and fetch me one.

He called from the supermarket, all excited, because since it was after Thanksgiving they were on sale. How many did I want for 39 cents each?! I had to burst his bubble and tell him I wanted no part of the mass-produced CAFO (Confined animal feeding operation) birds and that I wanted one raised humanely, naturally and sustainably and that yes it was going to cost more money. He grumbled but gave in to my conscious eaters morality and bought a bird I would be proud to eat. I'm not ready to be a vegetarian by a long shot, but the animals I do eat I want treated well before they are processed.

The 12 lb bird he brought home was duly defrosted in the fridge for two days, brined for 4 hours (After having brined several chickens and now a turkey I would not only highly recommend it to you, I would suggest that to skip brining is to miss out entirely on a seriously yummy poultry experience.), dried out over night, then roasted for 2 hours, rested for 20 and it was delicious.

Two hours! Did you notice how little time that was? I don't know how long turkeys are normally roasted for, but this seemed fast to me. The key is flipping it over and over, exposing each side to the appropriate amount of heat for just long enough. My recipe has you start with a 400 degree oven with the back exposed, then one wing/thigh, then the other wing/thigh and finally the breast. You baste it when you pull it out to flip it and that's it.

I also made a fresh cranberry sauce with orange peel and Grand Marnier and a roasted Kuri squash lightened with a lot of butter and a little salt. After it was all done, Caitlin and I sat down and feasted. Eric was off doing some sort of networking thing and missed out on the initial feeding frenzy, but if Caitlin's opinion was anything to go by that turkey was a hit!

After I'd packed Caitlin off to bed, I decided that I'd give the gravy-making a try. You know what? That gravy took about as long, if not longer to make than the turkey itself. I know, I know! If I'd been home earlier to start the gravy when I was supposed to, it would have seemed pretty fast. As it was, I started actively cooking the turkey at about 5 pm and didn't finish gravy making until 10:30 pm.

However, according to Eric and Heather, that's some fiiiine gravy. Not normally being a huge gravy fan myself, I liked it a lot, but I'm left wondering this: if my turkey is all lovely and moist from the brining, do I really need gravy? Isn't the whole point of gravy to moisten a dessicated bird?

Maybe I'll just freeze the gravy I made and trot it out next year?

[Evil grin]

* My larks are very very large, it would seem.


Janice said...

Oh no. Gravy is a must. For me, not so much for the Turkey, but for the stuffing. Yum. Gravy smothered rice stuffing...heaven.

Dawn said...

Even if you waited until the bird was done and made the gravy with the drippings, please explain how it could take so long to make gravy - unless you did something strange like pour in a gallon of water and simmer it until it cooked back down to 2 cups of gravy? BTW - smooth or chunky gravy? that's the real question.

What did you brine your bird in?

I was thinking about it and then decided it was one embellishment I just didn't have time for.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

I'll post the recipes tomorrow. Awesomely smooooooth gravy.

This gravy...worth the work, but takes awhile. There's about 3 different reductions, and a roux, sweating, etc. AND you use the drippings from the bird. Yeesh!

Jennifer H said...

Sorry, the gravy is non-negotiable. It's the best part of Thanksgiving, if you ask me.

But I have to agree with Dawn, that's a long time for gravy. It should take much less time!

Still, I bet it was yummy.

ellen said...

The gravy is for the yummy mashed potatoes at our house. Ok, and the stuffing and turkey.

Red Flashlight said...

Yay gravy!

Ali said...

For those of us who know nothing, how exactly does one brine something? I'm buying a chicken today and could use the tip.

Woman with a Hatchet said...

Ali: To brine chicken: dissolve 1/2 c table salt in 2 quarts cold water in a large bowl, stockpot or Dutch oven. Immerse chicken in brine and refrigerate for 1 hour. Remove from brine, pat dry with paper towels and proceed with your recipe.

Easy and guaranteed to yummify your chicken!

If you have kosher salt, the amount used is different, since the flakes are larger. 1/4 c table salt = 1/2 c Diamond Crystal Kosher OR 1/4 c table salt = 1/4 c + 2 tbsp Morton Kosher.

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