Project Wonderful

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

White Gravy

As promised, here's a recipe for a white pan gravy to go along with the breakfast biscuits for a Sunday Brunch:

  • 4 tbsp bacon fat (or unsalted butter)
  • 4 tbsp all purpose flour
  • 2 cups milk (good old vitamin D milk. The lighter stuff wont work as well.)
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground white pepper
OK, let's not mince words here: you are making gravy. This is not healthy. As long as we all realize that, everyone will get along just fine.

And hey! Here's some geek trivia for you to impress your friends with:
  • Combining flour and fat together is called a "Roux:". This is the foundation for a lot of dishes and is the thickening agent used for three of the of the five main, or "Mother Sauces" in French cuisine (Béchamel, Espagnole, VeloutéHollandaise, and Tomate). 
  • Technically you are making a Béchamel sauce since it involves fat and flour.
  • The word "roux" means "browned" as this is what you usually do with it, cooking it to a variety of shades of brown, from a light blond color for things like this gravy, all the way to the shade of a copper penny for Cajun dishes like gumbo.
  • A Veloute sauce uses flour and chicken stock, a Tomate sauce uses tomatoes, an Espagnole sauce uses veal stock and chunks of beef and a Hollandise uses egg, butter and lemon juice in an unholy trinity that (in my opinion) skirts the edge of being a freaking miracle of chemistry. 

This is a stock photo because I'm too lazy to take my own pic
And once again, I am following in the footsteps of my culinary ancestors that took traditional snooty French recipes and bastardized them to their heart's content. A traditional French roux uses butter. For mine, I'm using bacon fat. You can always substitute butter if you don't have any bacon fat in your fridge.

But why, for the love of Epicurus do you not have the solidified drippings of that delicious meat candy safely stored in your fridge? They impart SO MUCH FLAVOR to things you cook with them. Yes, it's not very healthy and I don't use it all the time, but for select dishes, nothing beats bacon fat for flavor. And as we've already established, we're making gravy here: "Healthy" doesn't have any business being near the word "gravy." 

Now I understand that everyone and their mother has a recipe for gravy that they swear by. I'm not saying that this is the ONLY way to make a gravy, just that it's my way and is pretty straightforward:

1. In a small pot heat the milk (but not boiling).

2. In a separate small saucepan, melt the bacon fat over low heat. Once melted, add the flour and mix together to make the roux. Keep stirring this as the flour begins to cook. You want to get it to a pale blonde color. Nothing more than that; Just a hint of color is all we're going for.

3. Once you've reached the right color, add about 1/2 the milk and increase the heat of the pan to medium.

4. Add the white pepper and a pinch or two of salt.

5. Stir this mixture with a wire whisk. Keep stirring this as you don't want it to stick. If it starts drying out, add more milk.

6. Keep adding in the milk a little at a time, whisking constantly until all the milk is combined and the sauce starts thickening.

7. Once your whisk starts leaving tracks in the pan that don't flow back, you are done. Transfer the gravy to a bowl (otherwise it may keep cooking in the pan) and serve immediately. You may want to add a pinch more white pepper and salt to taste at this point. 


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