Hey guys! I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We had a jam-packed week back home in New Orleans. We spent the first half with my parents and my sister’s family on the Northshore and Turkey Day and the remainder of the week with the hubby’s family and some of my additional relatives on the Southshore. We brought the kids to play laser tag and to feed the animals–very large animals–at the Global Wildlife Center in Folsom (great family outing by the way), snuck in a date night at Chef Susan Spicer’s Mondo restaurant in Lakeview, spent an afternoon frolicking in the French Quarter and even made time to shop and stock up on local pork products and fresh Louisiana oysters. It was a very fun and productive visit. Since then, however, I’ve been dealing with major house issues including a busted water heater and partially flooded basement! Needless to say, there hasn’t been a whole lot of cooking or writing or posting going on around here. Thankfully, things are finally calming down. So here I am with gravy on my mind!
Actually, I’ve been thinking about gravy ever since Thanksgiving. It’s always a hot topic at the turkey table. How can it not be with the bird and the pan drippings and the standard sides of oyster dressing, mashed potatoes, rice and baked macaroni begging for a blanket of it? Of course, everyone in our family has their own way of making it. Generally speaking, the Hogans like to thicken their gravies with cornstarch while me and my family prefer Wondra Gravy Flour. I think much of it has to do with what we grew up with. Either way, a good gravy is simple to make when you have pan drippings to start out with. But what about those times when you crave gravy and there’s no trail of crusty bits of meat or rendered fat lying around? What do you typically do? Do you resort to the premade stuff or gravy packets? I did just that until I discovered beef base and chicken base. If you’re not familiar with “base,” it’s a pasty concoction of lightly seasoned and heavily concentrated meat and natural juices that produces a gravy richer and deeper in flavor than the store-bought stuff. I buy these little tubs of Minor’s from BJs ….I’m sure you can find these or similar products at your grocery store. I use them most often to make last-minute gravies. But they’re also great flavor enhancers for soups, stews and other sauces. I even have a friend who adds chicken base to his guacamole. I don’t know if I’d go that far, but his guac is tasty. Anyway, it’s always good to have a basic gravy recipe on hand. And this one is just that. If you want a lighter gravy, swap out beef base with chicken base and add whatever herbs and spices tickle your fancy. Oh, and you may be surprised to find that I don’t use a roux in this recipe. Nope. In this instance, I resort to a good old slurry of water and flour to thicken everything. The mixture works perfectly in this quick recipe.
Brown Gravy Recipe
2 cups warm water, divided
1 tablespoon beef base
3 tablespoons Wondra Gravy Flour
1 tablespoon Lea & Perrins (Worcestershire sauce)
1 tablespoon parsley flakes
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste
In a medium saucepan over high heat, bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil; whisk in beef base. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, make a slurry by combining reserved 1/2 cup warm water with gravy flour; whisk until smooth. Add slurry to pan, whisking constantly; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, add Lea & Perrins and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until gravy thickens, 5-10 minutes. Stir in parsley flakes and garlic powder. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve hot. Makes about 2 cups.