Tag Archives: gravy

Welcoming 2015!

Happy New Year everyone! For all of you I wish a healthy, happy and peaceful 2015. Now, let’s talk New Year’s Day traditions!

Here in Pennsylvania, it is traditional to eat pork and sauerkraut. I have never understood the logic so yesterday I went searching for the answer. This is the best I found:

http://seriouseats.com/2014/12/good-luck-food-new-year-pork-sauerkraut-lentil-herring-collards-hoppin-john.html

Now that I have read the story behind the tradition it makes perfect sense. In short, pigs scratch forward symbolizing moving forward in the new year. Cabbage was in abundance, so sauerkraut was the perfect pairing. The tang of the kraut balances the richness of the pork so nicely.

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I always make mine in the slow cooker. I find it keeps the pork tender and juicy. Dry pork is not happy pork! Two quarts of our homemade sauerkraut, two tablespoons of brown sugar and twelve ounces of my husband’s home brewed hard cider go into a six quart slow cooker. Feel free to substitute store bought sauerkraut if necessary but I would rinse it first to control the sodium level. You can also substitute any apple cider, with or without the alcohol. Stir well to combine. Make sure all of the brown sugar dissolves.

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We share New Year’s dinner with my family and I love leftovers, so this year we bought a six and a half pound pork roast. I already have plans for the leftovers! Before adding it to the crock pot salt and pepper the roast on all sides and sear well. Once seared on all sides nestle into the sauerkraut fat side up. As the fat melts, it will baste the pork. Turn on low for seven to eight hours until it reaches an internal temperature of 165*.

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Next, to make gravy with the pan drippings. I had chicken bone broth in the fridge, but you can use any broth or stock you have on hand. I added two cups of broth and deglazed the pan well. Next I mixed one tablespoon of corn starch into a few tablespoons of water until well dissolved. Add into the gravy and whisk well over medium high heat until thickened to desired consistency. This will take about ten to fifteen minutes of constant whisking. I seasoned with salt, pepper, and thyme.

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This is my exquisitely fancy gravy boat! Travels so well! In all seriousness, I got about a cup of gravy from the drippings and my hubby raved over it. I think he may drink the leftovers if I don’t use them fast enough.

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You can’t have gravy without mashed potatoes right? I served my dairy free mashed on the side. Simple to make and delicious. Peel, cut and boil two pounds of potatoes until fork tender. Remember, always think leftovers. The amount can be adjusted depending on need. A trick I learned recently is to mash the potatoes before adding anything to them. Once mashed nicely I add a dash of plain almond milk, tablespoon of earth balance butter substitute and one half cup non-dairy sour cream. If you are not dairy free feel free to use milk, butter and sour cream. Stir until nice and creamy.

We also served with homemade applesauce, but somehow I managed to forget to take a picture of that and my plate. Sorry! I was so involved with all the conversation around the table it completely slipped my mind. That is the sign of a good holiday meal!

Now, please tell me about your traditions in the comments, and again Happy New Year!

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Simple Summer Sauce

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In the summer, I love to make nice chunky tomato sauce with whatever local vegetables I can get my hands on. The farmers’ market has been kind and supplied me with the perfect ingredients.

Start by heating two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil in your favorite pot over medium heat. I use a six quart dutch oven so I have plenty of room to work with.

Dice one large sweet onion and three large carrots. Add into the dutch oven, salt well and sauté until the onion is translucent.

While the onion and carrots sauté, finely mince four to six cloves of garlic; depending of how much garlic you prefer. My family loves garlic so I use six cloves. Add into the dutch oven and sauté until fragrant.

Two green peppers, diced, get added in next. Continue to sauté until all of the vegetables are beginning to get tender.

Strain six quarts of whole tomatoes and add to the vegetables. I used canned tomatoes from our pantry; whatever you have in your pantry will work. Stir well and break up the tomatoes with a wooden spoon.

Add in one cup of your favorite red wine. I had a beautiful bottle of Merlot on hand that my husband’s coworker, a winemaker, had given us. Always cook with a wine you enjoy drinking and you can not go wrong.

Bring to a boil and immediately turn the temperature down. The sauce should barely be at a simmer. Continue to simmer for two to three hours. This gives the flavors generous time to marry and also allows the sauce to thicken. Stir occasionally.

Add in some fresh thyme, basil and oregano. I used fresh picked from my herb garden, but herbs from the farmers’ market, store bought, or in a pinch dried herbs will work also. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

As is, this makes a nice chunky sauce. If you prefer a smoother sauce, use an immersion blender until it reaches the desired texture. The recipe makes enough for three batches, one to enjoy and two to freeze for future enjoyment.


Thanksgiving Sunday!

Most people cook their Thanksgiving meal on Thanksgiving; however, that is not the case in our house. Visiting with family on Thanksgiving does not allow us the time to cook our own Thanksgiving meal. Not having leftovers is a travesty in my opinion! The tradition has become to create our Thanksgiving meal the weekend after Thanksgiving; allowing us time to enjoy Thanksgiving with family and have our own leftovers for fun creations.

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This year we decided to try something a little bit different. A simple gremolata was made for under the skin of the turkey breast. Save a little to rub into the outside of the turkey as well. This should infuse both flavor and moisture into the breast meat. For the gremolata, combine four cloves of diced garlic, a handful of chopped fresh parsley, the juice and zest of one lemon and a few tablespoons of extra virigin olive oil. Allow to sit for at least an hour for the flavors to marry.

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Into the cavity place six cloves of garlic, two oranges, two lemons and a generous bunch of parsley. The flavors inside are very similar to the gremolata outside. The oranges and lemons were halved. Of course, both the inside and outside of the bird got a generous coating of salt as well.

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The turkey is now ready to go in the oven. We start ours covered in aluminum foil so it doesn’t brown to quickly on the outside. Into a 350* oven it goes. Time varies depending on size. Our twenty pounder cooked for two and a half hours with the foil and an additional hour and fifteen minutes without the foil. Look how beautifully brown the turkey comes out of the oven.

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It was decided to attempt a giblet gravy this year. Usually the giblets are thrown away because they are scary, but this year it was decided why not? While the turkey cooks the giblets will be simmering away. The giblets, salt, pepper, sage and enough water to cover went into my four quart stock pot. Once it came up to a boil, the heat got turned all the way down to low and the giblets simmer.

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Once the giblets are nice and tender, strain and reserve the broth. This will be the base for the gravy. Finely chop the giblets and add them to the broth. Add in some of the turkey drippings and stir together. Whisk in a few tablespoons of flour and continue whisking until gravy is desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

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One of my favorite parts of the Thanksgiving meal is the stuffing. What do you call it? Stuffing, filling or dressing? This was kept very traditional. About eight cups of bread cubes are needed.

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Rough chop two onions, five stalks of celery, five sage leaves and a handful of parsley. Sauté until tender in a few tablespoons of dairy free butter. The house will smell like Thanksgiving right about now. To me, nothing smells more like Thanksgiving than sage. Combine with the breads cubes and season with a few pinches of sea salt. Beat one egg and gently fold in.

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Place into a baking dish and bake at 350* for forty minutes or until nicely browned. You want the top to be slightly toasted.

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Next for the mashed potatoes. Six russet potatoes, peeled and cubed go into a four quart stock pot with enough cold water to cover. Boil until fork tender.

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Add in dairy free butter, dairy free sour cream and chicken broth until they are the consistency you are looking for.

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The last dish for our Thanksgiving dinner was kale with sweet peppers. This is the simplest dish by far. One bunch of kale and three sweet peppers sautéed in extra virgin olive oil. Since we eat with our eyes first, this dish has a lot of color.

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Season simply with salt, pepper and a small pinch of red chili flakes

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This is how we do Thanksgiving (Sunday). What are your Thanksgiving favorites? What flavors instantly bring the holiday to mind?


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