Tonight is the first night this week whereupon I haven't found myself up at an ungodly hour baking something while watching the web feeds for Countdown and the Rachel Maddow Show (for nixing MSNBC from their analog cable programming, Comcast has moved a step up the queue of those to be stood against the wall come the Revolution. By a small measure. I do not suggest that this is comparable to wholesale violation of consumer trust and opposition to Net Neutrality). Tonight there is neither an impending Thanksgiving nor an episode of either show. And I am full of turkey and deliciousness.
I hope you all had a freaking sweet Thanksgiving. I've long said that as far as holidays go, Thanksgiving wins at excecution. Good food, good company, minimal bullshit. If only the historical implications weren't massively fucked up.
I was going to post about some foodstuffs that I was tinkering with in the leadup, but honestly? Fucked if I can remember my methodology for figuring out what works for any given thing I'm cooking. Of course I recognize that the information I'm offering is only marginally useful at best, and that it's as much for my own memory as anything else. In any case.
THINGS THAT WORKED:
This pie, though I always scratch my head at recipes that presume that you'd use margarine rather than butter. If I was going to use anything else it would be that olive oil-based stuff that they make now. As it turned out, I had more filling than it took to fill the crust. I stretched the remaining filling with some more sugar, some apple cider, and some lemon juice, and more cornstarch to thicken, and it went on top of French toast in the morning. ON THE AGENDA: figuring out which other pie fillings are similarly effective, or indeed, if there are any that aren't.
Gravy happens to be the Thanksgiving dinner component that I've been making for the longest amount of time, ever since I was twelve. That it took me ten years (holy shit, what?) to learn that a fat separator wasn't any fancy kitchen appliance but rather a simple piece of plastic can only be described as an utter failure, given the frustration experienced by all when I simply had to freeze the juices so that the fat would be easy to skim.
But I digress.
It's hard to quantify the ingredients used in such endeavors, since you're working with whatever drippings you've taken from the bird, but I think I can work backwards here.
Meat drippings (with the fat separate)
Browning Sauce (I used Gravy Master)
Cajun Seasoning (I used McKormick)
Red Cayenne Pepper
I made a total of 10 cups of gravy out of the drippings I collected I used 3 cups of water
The amount of flour is easy. It's a 1 to 1 ratio with the separated fat. I was working with a little over 2 1/2 cups of each. blend the fat with the flour. Add the mixture and the water while simmering at medium heat until you have the desired consistency, with a note that 30% water is about right for the total amount. Reduce the heat to low.
There will probably be some of the mixture fat/flour left. Save it, because when you have leftovers and need to stretch the gravy it comes in handy.
All of the dry seasonings are to taste, and can be added in any order, though to keep track of the taste I'd add everything in the order that I listed them. I used about as much rosemary as I did onion salt, and twice as much onion salt as I did garlic salt. As for the Cajun seasoning, I used somewhere between a half and a quarter teaspoon. The cayenne was maybe an eighth of a teaspoon. Maybe less. The instructions on the bottle of browning sauce say to add a teaspoon of the stuff for every 4 tablespoons of fat drippings. I used 3 for the amount that I made, which is considerably less. Once again a matter of taste. Continue simmering at low heat and stirring throughout until piping hot.
The idea to add Cajun seasoning and cayenne pepper came at the last moment, and I believe that this is the best gravy I've ever made.
Recognizing that not everyone eats turkey (and that I'd be eating with some of those people at a second Thanksgiving dinner with people from the xkcd forums on Saturday) I also was playing with the idea of a gravy substitute that can go with the sorts of things one puts gravy on. I settled on a sort of modified peanut sauce, swapping out the soy sauce with gravy browning sauce and the typically asian seasonings with more autumnal fare. I arrived at something that worked with mashed potatoes and yams, and as I didn't have anything else in front of me at the time that was all I tested it with. In any case:
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 tablespoons browning sauce
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 teaspoon garlic salt
1/4 cup apple cider
OPTIONAL: 1/4 cup of stout, dark ale, or an autumn seasonal. Make sure it isn't too hoppy. Otherwise, use 1/4 cup of water instead
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon alspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
This can be done in either a non-stick pan on the stove or in the microwave. If it's the former, combine all ingredients and stir constantly until the peanut butter melts. If the latter, 30-40 seconds in the microwave does it.
Hope all of that wasn't pointless.