Local chef Christy Rost shares recipe, tips for a low-stress Thanksgiving
This recipe for turkey gravy comes from “Celebrating Home: A Handbook For Gracious Living,” by Breckenridge chef, author and PBS personality Christy Rost. Learn more about Rost and her work at www.christyrost.com.
6 cups water
Turkey neck and gizzards
½ onion, peeled and chopped
2 stalks celery with leaves, rinsed and coarsely chopped
6 cups cold water
1 bay leaf
In a large saucepan, combine water, turkey neck and gizzards, onion, celery, bay leaf and 6 cups water. Bring the mixture to a low boil over medium-high heat, reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer 3 to 4 hours to form a flavorful broth.
Pan drippings from roasted turkey
Turkey broth (see recipe above)
4 cups reserved hot cooking water used to boil potatoes for mashed potatoes
2 to 3 bouillon cubes
1 cup flour
Cold water to make a slurry
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Remove the turkey from the roasting pan, transfer it to a serving platter, and cover it with foil to keep it warm. Spoon fat from the roasting pan, and discard, reserving turkey juices that have accumulated in the pan. Place the pan on two stove burners, turn the heat to medium, and add broth from cooking the turkey neck and gizzards, potato cooking water, and bouillon cubes; stir until the bouillon cubes have dissolved.
Place flour in a medium mixing bowl, and whisk in enough cold water to form a smooth slurry with the thickness of heavy cream. Gradually whisk the slurry into the broth mixture, and cook until the gravy begins to thicken. If the gravy is too thick, stir in a little extra potato or tap water. If it’s too thin, mix together additional flour slurry and whisk it into the gravy. Season with pepper and a pinch of salt, if needed. Turn the heat to low, and keep the gravy hot, stirring occasionally, until ready to serve.
Makes 10 cups of gravy.
The Thanksgiving meal is all about tradition, from the roasted turkey to family recipes for everything from stuffing and potatoes to pumpkin pie and other sweets. With all of the other dishes vying for attention, one very important element can often get less attention than it deserves: the gravy.
“It’s a kind of a crucial condiment, and it’s tradition,” she said. “Many of us have mothers or grandmothers who made ‘the best gravy in the world,’ so I think it’s one of those things that we aspire to, to re-create the gravy that our mothers made or that our grandmothers made or that our favorite aunt made. It’s kind of a test each year: Can you get it as good as theirs?”
KEYS TO GREAT GRAVY
Though Rost has been cooking and entertaining for years and even included the attached gravy recipe in one of her cookbooks, “Celebrating Home: A Handbook For Gracious Living,” she said she’s still trying to find the exact flavor of her grandmother’s gravy.
“It never tastes quite the same,” she said. “It’s good, but never quite the same. I think every grandmother or mother has a little secret stash that they dip into and add it to the gravy every year, and we can never find what that little secret component is.”
Rost’s own recipe has two important elements: a flavorful broth base and the addition of potato water, the reserved water from boiling potatoes for mashed potatoes which contains nutrients, flavor and starches that help to thicken the gravy.
“I take the neck and the giblets and put them in a large sauce pan with plenty of water and add celery stalks, with some of the leaves because the leaves are actually quite flavorful, and carrot, onion, bay leaf,” she said. “Bring that to a low boil, turn it down, and create turkey broth, which I use in addition to the potato water in the gravy.
“Put the big roasting pan on two burners and add the potato water and this flavorful broth that has been simmering for hours and fills the house with this gorgeous fragrance. That plus the turkey drippings from the pan and bouillon cubes that add intense flavor, and you’ve got enough gravy to feed an army.”
REDUCING HOLIDAY STRESS
Creating a big and complicated meal like the traditional Thanksgiving feast can be stressful, especially for those who are taking the reins of the family event for the first time. Rost said the best way to reduce anxiety is not to try to make all of the dishes you remember from Thanksgivings past.
“Select maybe two or three that are really important to you, important because they help recall family memories or because family is coming and you want to have those special dishes,” she said. “But don’t try to have five or six of them because it’s too much, it’s too stressful, it takes too much time and energy and what happens is the host doesn’t enjoy the event because, like so often, it is about the gathering and not totally about the food.”
Asking for help is definitely OK, too.
“Hopefully the host has asked others who are coming to bring one of their favorite dishes or something from their family tradition,” Rost said. “And then that becomes part of the entertainment factor because that is the springboard for family stories and thereby family memories.”
Enlist the aid of the younger generation and keep them entertained through the long meal-making process by letting the kids create placemats or centerpieces for the dining table with crayons, scissors and construction paper, or draw from your own creativity to put together something more elegant. However you choose to do it, it’s best to set the table early in the day so it doesn’t become a last-minute crunch or personal disappointment because it was rushed or didn’t quite end up the way you wanted it.
“Then it’s all ready and you can get into the meal and the creation of it and have a little bit less stress about the whole thing,” Rost said. “And understand that if something doesn’t come out perfectly, that’s OK. Sometimes disasters make the best stories years later. Not to stress, not to worry.”
Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.