Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Oops! The Gravy Angst Fairy Makes Her Annual Visit

I hope that this is not an indication of how my cooking will turn out tomorrow. This is a photo of what were supposed to be roasted turkey giblets and vegetables for making turkey stock to be used in turkey gravy. Loyal Readers, I kid you not when I say that I followed the recipe to the letter, except that I removed the pan from the oven 20 minutes before the specified time. Granted, the recipe did mention that I would need a backbone and all I had was the neck and the gizzards and the (I think) liver. But, still, it shouldn't have turned out this TORCHED!

So, giblets ruined and no turkey stock on the near horizon, I needed a Plan B for my gravy. I am serving eleven tomorrow for Thanksgiving...six adults & five children.

As in all times of need, I went to my Oracle - in this case Cook's Illustrated online - and searched for "make ahead gravy". I recalled that earlier this week on Yahoo a recipe was highlighted for said "make ahead gravy" from Cook's Illustrated. The claim was that the gravy "had been taste tested over 40 times" - whatever the heck that means. (One person, 40 times? 40 people, one tasting? One person, 40 times making the gravy and tasting each batch...who knows?) But the bottom line was that this recipe was perfect for my situation. It did not require any turkey parts or turkey stock AT ALL.

Well, I made the gravy and am here to report that it is pretty damn good. It doesn't taste like turkey gravy, but good money says that if I slip it into the mix of freshly roasted turkey and all the trimmings, nobody will be the wiser. Well, except my husband who just tasted it and suggested that if we put some "good strong turkey drippings into it" it would be okay.

He has this gravy thing, this high standard of gravy that trips me up just about every year at Thanksgiving. When we lived in Fairfield, I just bought the gravy at Hay Day and thought it was pretty good. (I didn't realize how disappointed my husband was, suffering in silence, longing for gravy made with actual pan drippings...) I know that the admission that I purchased ready made gravy may shock some of my Loyal Readers, given that their BloomingtonGirl is such a From-Scratch Cook. But, for those of you not familiar, Hay Day (now Balducci's) wasn't just a run of the mill grocery store. It was, for lack of a better word, gourmet.

But still, you may wonder why BloomingtonGirl didn't just make her own gravy. To be completely honest, gravy has always intimidated me. I just am afraid of it. All the last minute de-glazing of the roasting pan and then (worst thing of all) having to use the tricky fat separating measuring cup thingy. I just don't want to bother with it. I don't want to get all sweaty, leaning over the pan right before we are to sit down for an elegant meal. Last year, my friend Jenny rescued me from my gravy anxiety by showing up and taking over the gravy duty. This year, she is selfishly spending the holiday with her father in Alabama of all places, leaving me without a gravy sous chef. (I might take her off my Christmas Card list for that.)

Well, would you look at the time? It is 10:40 PM! I've been cooking all day and all of the sudden, I am beat. I am off to bed to read a little and moisturize my tired and dry little paws.

More tomorrow on my cooking progress.

Keep your fingers crossed for my gravy adventures.

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