Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Prep: Gravy, Cranberry Sauce, Pie Crusts

In case anyone is looking for step by step instructions, I am posting all of these today . First the gravy. I fill a big pot with turkeys parts; use whichever pieces you wish. I used legs, thighs and necks. Add 8 stalks of celery, 2 large onions cut in half, 4 bay leaves, several stems of rosemary, 8 carrots, a sprinkling of salt and some black peppercorns. Fill almost to the top with water.

Bring the pot to a boil and then turn the heat down and let it simmer until the meat is falling off the bones. I always make my gravy a couple days in advance of Thanksgiving.

After a couple hours the pot will look like this. Not very attractive but it will produce tasty gravy!

Strain all the solids and reserve the stock.

In a heavy pot melt 4 T. butter with 1/2 c. oil.

Add 8 T. flour.

Whisk the flour into the oil.

Keep whisking the roux over medium high heat.

When the roux is the color you want your gravy to be, it is ready. Carefully add the stock to the roux. It will sputter and spit so wear long sleeves. Allow this to simmer over medium heat.

I always add a container of demi glace for added flavor. You could use some bouillon if you want.

Sprinkle in some freshly cracked black pepper.

Continue to simmer until it thickens slightly. If your gravy is too thick, thin it with more stock.

If your gravy is too thin (which mine was) melt a couple tablespoons of butter and mix this with 3 tablespoons of flour.

Whisk the mix into the gravy and cook until it is the right consistency. When you make this in advance and refrigerate it you can easily skim the fat off once it has cooled.

This made about 3 quarts of gravy. I always make extra to use as a soup base for the turkey soup I make from leftovers. I will post that recipe after thanksgiving.

I have been making this cranberry sauce for 25 years. I think it is the best I have ever tasted.

Measure 2 cups of sugar into a heavy pot.

Add 1 cup of water.

Add 1 cup of port.

Add 4 star anise.

And 2 cinnamon sticks.

Bring this mixture to a boil.

Then add two bags of fresh cranberries or 6 cups.

Zest and juice a large orange.

The cranberries will begin to pop.

Stir in the orange juice.

Then add the zest.

The sauce will thicken as it sits. Refrigerate until ready to use. Remove the anise and cinnamon sticks just before serving.

This is the way I make my pie crusts. It is efficient and neat. I always make a pate' brise for all of my pies.

Put 2 1/2 cups of flour in your food processor. Add 1 tsp. of salt.

Add 2 tablespoons of sugar.

Cube 2 stick of unsalted COLD butter.

Dump the butter into the bowl. Pulse a few times.

As you pulse the dough add 6 and 1/2 tablespoons of ice cold water.

The dough will still be crumbly but will hold it's shape against the sides of the bowl.

Put a jumbo ziplock bag over the bowl and dump the contents into the bag.

Push the dough into the corner and squeeze it into a ball.

The let the dough fall back to the center of the bag.

Press the dough down to form a round.

Pull the edges of the bag around the dough. Press the edges together until the dough forms a disk.

With the dough still inside the bag, roll the dough out.

When it is rolled to the desired thickness, zip the bag and refrigerate until ready to use.

Each bag has enough dough for a 2 crust pie. I always make extras and freeze them.

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