Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Beer Gravy over Fried Turkey Dinner Balls

OK, so this post is mainly going to be about beer gravy, and I'll give my recipe in just a bit. I used the beer gravy to compliment my Fried Turkey Dinner Balls. I wrote about them in another post, so you can read that to hear how I did it. The big change this time was to coating/breading--I pulverized some instant potato buds in the food processor and used that as the breading. Still working on perfecting that, but it was pretty gosh darned good. The dinner turned out fantastic.

Now, by special request of my good friend Ewa, I'm going to tell you my beer gravy secret. But first, and admission. This was the second time I made this recipe and I tried to jazz it up with a bit of tarragon. I did not like the tarragon and it seemed to hide the hoppiness of the beer. But that choice is up to you.

Here's how I did it and how you can duplicate this delicious gravy.

First, make and cook a mirepoix. Take about 5 oz. of carrots, roughly chopped, and process in a food processor until quarter-inch or less chunks. Then add about 10 oz. of rough cut onions and 5 oz. of rough cut celery. Pulse in the food processor until finely chopped (do not make a puree!). Heat 1/2 stick (4 oz) of butter in a heavy duty sautee or fry pan (not non-stick, preferably) until is sizzles, then add the mirepoix, sprinkle with about a scant teaspoon of salt, and fry over medium heat for nearly 20 minutes or until very much reduced, very little steam, and until it start to brown. Do not burn it! Stir a lot. When somewhat golden, add another tablespoon of butter and cook until it sizzles (get's the moisture out). Now add 1/4 cup cake flour sprinkled over this mixture, and cook, stirring contstantly over med-low heat until browned a bit (you can use all purpose flour too, i just like the texture you get from cake flour, and the lack of protein in cake flour helps the gravy from getting a skin on it). Do not let it burn. Stir, stir, stirr every minute or so.

Now to the next step. Deglaze the pan with about 2 ounces of dry sherry or dry white wine (or your favorite dry red, if you have some). Stir or whisk constantly. Then add one 12-ounce bottle of O'Doul's non-alcoholic beer, stirring and whisking constantly. Now add about 3/4 cup of chicken broth and 3/4 cup of beef broth (you can use all of one or the other or adjust the proportions), whisking so the mixture is smooth. Add a bay leaf, a few sprigs of fresh thyme (and a sprig of tarragon if you dare, but I thought it too overpowering), several dashes of cayenne red pepper, and a few healthy grinds of black pepper and cook on low until it just comes to a simmer. Then continue to cook on very low heat for about 20 minutes or so until the desired consistency. It will thicken more when it cools. You can always add more broth if it's too thick for you.

Now for the fun. Strain the gravy through a fine sieve (I double strain, once in a coarse sieve, then in a fine sieve). Alternately, you could put through a cheese cloth but there will be a bit of texture to the gravy then, it's all up to you. I like the smooth creaminess I get when using the fine sieve, but this takes  a bit of work. Press on the mirepoix with a spatula to get all the good "juice" out. You can discard the mirepoix, it's served its purpose (though I can attest to the fact that it still tastes pretty good in this state!). Keep the gravy warm until you use it and taste and salt just before serving. You can also add more pepper or cayenne at this point if needed, but be gentle on the spice, you don't want to overpower the beer aroma.

That's it. This makes a delicious gravy. It will keep in the refrigerator for quite a while. It does not freeze and thaw the best, you'll need to whisk it back into shape if you do this, but it is nice to have a bit on hand for another day.

This beer gravy is a combination of several recipes and techniques I've used. I hereby officially christen it "Leon's Outstanding Beer Gravy." Smacznego! (that's Polish for bon apetit!).


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