I know how it is, believe me. You spend all week (maybe weeks) planning a holiday menu. Your guests arrive, intoxicating smells of roast turkey, prime rib, beef tenderloin or other succulent specialties fill the air. All that’s left is to make the gravy and the nagging thought that it can make or break your creation.
Worry not! A lot of people have asked me how I made the turkey gravy we had on Thanksgiving and were curious how I did it with no flour or corn starch. It is a naturally thick sauce with that roasted flavor people crave. You can do this with any type of roasted meat and it comes out great every time.
Before you put your roast in the pan, peel and large dice a couple of large carrots, a large onion and a stalk of celery. Add a couple of cloves of garlic, if desired. Season the vegetables with salt and pepper and a little olive oil. You may want to also add a few stalks of fresh thyme or other herbs. Mix them together a little to distribute the seasoning. Lay your roast on top and cook according to whatever your recipe may be.
After 45 minutes to an hour, check to make sure the vegetables are browning nicely, but not burning to a crisp. A rich brown is okay. As Mario Batali says, “There is a fine line between perfectly cooked and burned.” When they are browned enough, add some chicken or beef stock to the pan (about 2 cups).
When your roast is done, your vegetables should be well cooked and soft. While you set your roast aside to cool, use a slotted spoon to put the vegetables, garlic and herbs in a food processor or blender. Puree them well. Place the roasting pan on the stove over high heat, add a half cup of port or white wine to the pan and scrape the tasty bits off the bottom of the pan. Put puree back in roasting pan, and over high heat, reduce the gravy by half. Check for seasoning. At this point you can strain it or serve it as is. I like it as is. If it is still not thick enough for you, you can continue to reduce or cheat and sprinkle some Wondra on it while it is boiling and stir with a whisk. Enjoy!
Elizabeth Dougherty has been cooking and writing about food intensively for more than ten years. She is the fourth generation of chefs and gourmet grocers in her family with her mother, Francesca Esposito and grandmother, Carmella being major influences in her early cooking years. As a teenager, her family sent her to Europe where she became focused on French and Italian cuisine. She survived a year and half of culinary tutelage under a maniacal Swiss-German chef and is a graduate of NYIT, Magna Cum Laude with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality, Business and Labor Relations.
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