I didn’t just eat gravy

I wanted to, but I did make other things.

I made both cornbread and regular stuffing, because why choose when you can have both? I realized that the only cast iron skillet I have is a grill pan (I used to have a complete set of cast iron, years and years ago, but I lived a half mile from the beach, and the ocean air left the pans a little, erm, rusty). I plowed ahead with it with great success. Since Thanksgiving (well, the day after) only comes once a year, I figured if things weren’t all that low-fat. I may have gone overboard though.

I chopped up eight slices of bacon and fried that in the pan. I then took out the bacon, but used the remaining oil in the cornbread mixture. Then, I poured the mixture into the bacony pan and baked it in the oven. Nothing makes cornbread tasty like bacon. In the stuffing, I added roasted anaheim peppers, the bacon (obviously), sauteed onions, celery, and garlic, red pepper flakes, cheddar cheese, cumin, oregano, and lots of others peppers and spices I happened to have on hand. I’m thinking of frying some up today for lunch.

The other stuffing was your typical Joy of Cooking recipe with added mushrooms. I cut up a baguette into cubes and toasted them up in the oven. I never make the cubes small enough because I’m always worried that because the bread is so crusty, the knife will slip, and I’ll cut my finger. Which only happened the one time, but now I’m forever making the cubes too big. I should really use a food processor.

I also made Alton Brown’s chipotle smashed sweet potatoes, which I recommend making way more often than just at Thanksgiving. I add about three times the chipotle peppers and sauce he recommends though. It’s the easiest thing to make and so hot and good.

I made mashed potatoes the same way as always: with some butter, milk, chives, and cream cheese.

I wanted to make garlic green beans, but by the time we made it to the store, the beans were looking pretty wilty and sad. So, we made due with creamed spinach, with lots of onion, garlic, and mushrooms. And er, cream cheese.

I didn’t need to make any dessert since P. had made the most delicious cheesecake ever earlier in the week. And we had store- bought rolls. I admit it.

It was all good, but it mostly made a nice foundation for the gravy.

the most delicious gravy ever. seriously

I mean, I could eat this gravy with a spoon, as a soup. Which is fortunate since it took me the entire day to make. Totally worth it.

I used The Best Recipe‘s gravy recipe as a guide, although I left out the part where it has you cut up the turkey heart and lungs and soul and whatever else is in that bag ‘o parts that comes with your turkey and put those parts back into the gravy. Actually, I didn’t have a bag ‘o parts because my week was so crazy that we didn’t even get to the grocery store until Wednesday night and they only had frozen turkeys, which would take a month or so to thaw. (OK, maybe not a month, but it was unlikely we could have a thawed turkey by Friday. Yes, I made the big dinner on Friday. We were at relatives’ on Thursday, but cooking and then eating for days is my favorite part of Thanksgiving, so we did it the next day.)

The point is that we ended up getting a fresh turkey breast, which was basically the same as the whole turkey only without legs. and the bag of parts. I cut off some pieces that didn’t look very edible to use in place of the parts in the recipe.

I brined the legless turkey in beef broth, red wine, kosher salt, and spices. When I roasted the turkey, I filled it with lots of vegetables and herbs. I also poured some chicken broth in the roasting pan, and sprinkled around more vegetables and herbs. I added water every half hour or so.

I followed the basic instructions for the gravy (brown the turkey parts, onion etc., simmer in chicken broth for a while, strain, separately make a roux, pour all but one cup of the liquid into the roux and whisk for a long while). Once the turkey was done, I put the roasting pan on the stove and deglazed the pan with a cup of white wine. I added the final cup of the liquid to that and let it simmer for a while. I probably had six cups of liquid. I strained that and then added about half to the roux mixture, slowly, as I whisked. I did not add the parts back to this.

Seriously, you are looking for things to pour this gravy on. I still have half of the pan drippings and stock I made from the turkey, and I am making that gravy again as soon as we finish eating this batch.

I thought I only liked cheesecake this much.

biscuits

Dude. Biscuits are easy and so good. Who knew? Well, probably you knew and you make them every morning for breakfast, but I had no idea. None.

I used the Joy of Cooking recipe (although in a food processor and with half non-fat milk and half regular milk). I remembered Alton Brown’s show on biscuits and tried not to mix everything too much. These biscuits were so easy and so flaky and so good. I highly recommend that you go make some biscuits right now. Maybe I will too.

I’ve been in an Italian state of mind

I haven’t made many original recipes lately. I’ve been starting work at about 7am most days, and by 7 or 8 at night when I finally get out of the office, I’m more hungry than creative.

This week, has mostly been Italian. So much for low-fat cooking.

A few nights ago, I made three Rachel Ray recipes. Say what you want about her, when it’s 8pm and you need to stop at the grocery store on the way home to pick up ingredients and you’re going to have to work some more after dinner, the thought of a 30 minute meal is a pretty good one.

I made Florentine meatballs, Papa al Pomodoro and onion tartlets.

I didn’t veer too much from the recipes, although I spiced up the meatballs a little more and used fat-free milk and fresh provolone in the sauce. For the soup, I used cannellini beans, even though she specifically says to use something smaller, mostly because the lame Safeway by my house didn’t have any smaller beans. Tomato sauce, bread, and parmesan cheese? There’s no way to go wrong with that. I made the tartlets with french bread, rather than white, which worked out pretty well. I used about half as much cheese as the recipe called for though. A pound of cheese! I love cheese more than most people, but seriously, that’s a lot of cheese.

Then the next night, I made some angel hair pasta and pesto and some garlic bread, but I also tried the malfatti recipe from Accidental Hedonist. Oh Kate. It sounded so good. And I made it so badly. My dumplings fell completely apart when I tried to boil them. I know that she warns of that and cautions of less-than-dry spinach. I guess that could have been my problem, although I had a bad experience with watery spinach and ham lasagna years ago, which has served as a cautionary tale ever since. I wring out my spinach and wring it out some more and then I bake it in the sun and leave it in the sauna for a while. The problem might have been the ricotta. I used a combination of really good (and dry) ricotta, and some low-fat (somewhat watery) ricotta. I should never try to go low-fat with cheese.

I fished out my watery spinach and drained it on paper towels. It tasted OK with the quick tomato sauce I threw together. But it sure wasn’t as good as Kate described it. I’ve just never been able to make dumplings of any kind. I’ll have to keep trying.

The tomato sauce was easy. I softened up a chopped onion and some minced garlic in olive oil, and added some salt and pepper, red pepper flakes, dried basil and oregano. Then I deglazed the pan with some red wine, added a 15 oz can of tomato sauce and a 6 oz can of tomato paste. I simmered it for about 20 minutes and added a splah of red wine vinegar. I normally would have used diced tomatoes, but tomato sauce was what I had on hand.

We had all this with a 95 Terra Blanca cab. We were at the Terra Blanca winery over labor day weekend (we’re big fans of the late harvest gewurtz). We tried the 2001 Red Mountain cab, which was really good, and the Onyx blend, which was even better. We snagged a few bottles of the Onyx, but we ended up with a case of the 95 cab. It generally sells for $25 a bottle, but we got a case for $75 because sadly, it’s peaked. It still has aromas that give you a hint of how flavorful it used to be, but the taste has faded. But it’s still a great tasting wine at $75 a case. (It’s a pretty poor wine for $25 a bottle though.)