Sunday, November 23, 2008

Get Thanksgiving right, and the rest is gravy

Ten years ago this week, I hosted my first Thanksgiving. I was newly married and was determined to cook a turkey and all the trimmings, despite my tiny New York City apartment kitchen. I went a little over-board on the menu.... with butternut squash risotto as a first course, all kinds of fancy additions to my mashed potatoes and other side dishes, and I made an almond- plum tart for dessert. As much as everyone ooo-ed and ahh-ed (okay, maybe just my mother and new husband, who are required to be supportive), it was really a bit much. Leave it to my younger brother to set me straight. "What happened to all the 'regular' stuff?" Well, he was right. Thanksgiving is all about tradition, and from that point forward, there would be no fussy first courses, I'd make simple side dishes, and some good ol' "regular" apple pie for dessert (I'm all about apples these days).

The one thing I did do right was the turkey. I got the idea from one of my many cooking magazines--- I believe it was Bon Appetit. There was nothing extraordinary about the preparation, except for the glaze brushed on near the end of the cooking time. The glaze? Red currant jelly--right from the supermarket. It is also added to the pan gravy to create a rich color and fantastic flavor. Some fresh sage gives it some texture and even more flavor. It was such a hit, I've made it every year I've hosted since that first time ten years ago. The butternut squash risotto is for another meal, but the glazed bird and red currant gravy has become turkey-day tradition around here.

While I was teaching my "Sauce Basics" workshop last week, I mentioned this gravy and one of my students requested I put it on the blog---so here it is...with the back-story to boot!

Happy Thanksgiving!!

Pan-tastic Red Currant Gravy

Once the turkey is done, place your pan on top of your stove burners and create this yummy gravy.

4 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons cornstarch or flour
3 tablespoons water
1/4 cup red currant jelly
1/4 cup fresh sage, chopped

In a small bowl, make a slurry by whisking together the water and cornstarch. Set aside.

Turn the burners on high and add 4 cups of stock to deglaze the roasting pan. Use a wooden or silicone spoon to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Add the slurry to the pan and WHISK vigorously to prevent lumps from forming.

Add the jelly and fresh sage and continue to whisk until thickened. Check seasonings and add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve hot with roasted turkey.

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