Episode 8 – “Gravy Confidential”

Posted: August 1, 2014 in Season 1
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This post is far overdue. I suppose Summer has gotten the best of me! Without further ado, here is my recap of the recipes featured in the eighth episode of Good Eats, featuring gravy.

I was not raised on gravy. Yes, you read that correctly. Our family did not eat gravy at holidays. While there was a place on our Thanksgiving dinner table for sauerkraut, gravy rarely, if ever, made an appearance. I realize this is a rarity in our country. The funny thing is, I did technically eat gravy as a child… it just wasn’t called gravy! My grandma and my mom would make Chipped Beef or “Shit on a Shingle (SOS)” for us, and it was one of my very favorite breakfasts. I never realized I was eating gravy because SOS was, to me, its own entity. Every time I eat Chipped Beef I recall eating it at Grandma’s house with my brother, Rusty, and my cousins, Jimmy and David. I have gone on to make SOS for my husband, and it remains a family favorite to this day. I guess this proves that gravy, or SOS, or whatever you choose to call it, truly is comfort food.

White Roux

The first recipe featured in the 8th episode of Good Eats is for White Roux. Alton explains that the white roux is the thickener used in the actual gravy recipe. While the online recipe uses 4 T of fat and 6 T of flour, Alton uses equal portions of fat and flour (by weight) in the episode. I used 2 oz. of butter and 2 oz. of flour.

Two ounces of butter and two ounces of flour.

Two ounces of butter and two ounces of flour.

The butter is melted in a pan, and the flour is added to the pan, whisking until the mixture is combined and starts to thin.

Melted butter.

Melted butter.

Flour added to melted butter.

Flour added to melted butter.

At this point, the heat is reduced and the roux is cooked until it smells as if it has been toasted.

Completed white roux.

Completed white roux.

A key note is that the roux should be used to thicken a liquid of opposite temperature; so, a hot roux should be combined with a cool liquid, while a cool roux should be used to thicken a warm liquid.

Gravy from Roast Drippings

The primary recipe in the eight episode is for a gravy made from roast drippings. Since this recipe uses drippings from a roast, I roasted a pork tenderloin to get some drippings. Since tenderloin is such a lean cut of meat, there was not a large yield of drippings, so a different cut of meat with a greater fat content may have been better suited for making this gravy.

Pan drippings from pork tenderloin roast.

Pan drippings from pork tenderloin roast.

Following the recipe in the episode, Alton instructs you to deglaze the pan (with drippings), using red wine.

Deglazing the pan with red wine.

Deglazing the pan with red wine.

This liquid is then strained into a pan, and the broth (low-sodium is specified in the episode), bay leaves (2), and peppercorns are added. This liquid is reduced to approximately 2 1/4 C.

Drippings, wine, broth, bay leaves, and peppercorns.

Drippings, wine, broth, bay leaves, and peppercorns.

At this time, you whisk 1/2 C of the liquid into the cooled white roux. The remaining liquid is whisked into this mixture over high heat, reserving 1/4 C.

Hot liquid combined with cold white roux.

Hot liquid combined with cold white roux.

Alton encourages you to leave your gravy on the thin side, as it will thicken as it cools. I added all of my liquid to my roux, and it definitely ended up being on the thick side.

Finished gravy.

Finished gravy.

Conversely, the online recipe tells you to utilize only 2 T of the white roux to thicken your gravy. This is a large difference in the amount of thickening agent. I probably would use less white roux if I were to make this again. The resulting gravy had a very pleasant flavor. The red wine flavor really did come through, which I really liked. In fact, it was probably my favorite gravy I have had. Ted said he also liked this wine flavor, though it was different from the more traditional gravies he is used to having. I will go to this recipe in the future for any gravy needs I have!

Sawmill Gravy

When I saw Alton make his Sawmill Gravy, I immediately recognized it as a version of the “gravy” I grew up eating. I took some liberties with this one, and made my grandma’s version of sawmill gravy, which differs (only slightly) from Alton’s. Alton’s recipe uses fat from sausage or breakfast meat. To this, flour is added and stirred until a nutty, toasted aroma is present. The pan is removed from the heat and milk is added, whisking. This is cooked over high heat until thickened. My grandma’s version uses butter, which is melted over medium heat.

Melted butter.

Melted butter.

To this, a whole jar of shredded, dried meat is added. The jar’s label instructs you to rinse the meat before using. Ignore this, or you will shamefully rinse the goodness (aka flavor) down the drain.

Shredded canned beef added to butter.

Shredded canned beef added to butter.

The meat is stirred until thoroughly coated with the butter. 8-1-2014 021To this, flour is added, and this mixture is stirred until the flour is no longer visible and a toasted aroma appears.

Flour added to beef and butter.

Flour added to beef and butter.

Cooking out the raw flour taste.

Cooking out the raw flour taste.

Gradually, milk is added to this mixture, stirring until each addition begins to thicken.

First milk addition to meat.

First milk addition to meat.

Beginning to thicken.

Beginning to thicken.

8-1-2014 026

Finished Chipped Beef.

Finished Chipped Beef.

The final mixture is served over toasted English muffins. I like mine topped with lots of fresh ground pepper and a dash of Tabasco. I am sure that all nutritionists would highly frown upon this use of sodium-laden jarred beef. It is worth it. Trust me.

Shit on a Shingle!

Shit on a Shingle!

 

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