Saturday, November 04, 2006

how to acheive world peace

....Serve this Brown Gravy.

"Nations", ya say, "Nations, yer gross. All we ever get outta you is potty legends and exploding road kill...well, dammit, we're sick of it, ya hear? Sick of it!'
Well fine. Don't get all in a bunch for heavens' sake.
Here's a recipe. Actually, it's a recipe and a tutorial! Lucky you!

Read the entire recipe before you start...remember, I have a strange brain. And in using this recipe, please bear in mind that these are not exact measurements. I repeat: THESE ARE NOT EXACT MEASUREMENTS. It 's more important to use the exact ingredients than it is to measure them with scientific accuracy. Have all your tools accounted for and set out beforehand, including little plates or bowls to hold the 'aside' portions. Ideally ingredients should be at room temperature.

1/2 cup dry, fine, white breadcrumbs. May be sourdough, french, egg, potato or wonder. Not whole wheat EVER. No sweet breads, no highly spiced or herbed breads, no rye, just plain white damn bread.
...brown these in a teflon pan over med-hi heat, turning with a plastic spoon or spatula, until they are a yellow golden brown, set aside on a saucer to cool. Put the teflon pan away because you will not be using it again.

4 cups brown stock, unsalted, to which may be added any drippings and

cast juices from one beef, vennison or pork roast, DEGREASED.
...combine. pour off 1 cup or so of this mixture into a jar with a tightly fitting lid and set aside.

1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch-if it's a rainy day you may add a little more
1/4 cup milk, room temp

2 ribs celery, with leaves
1 carrot
(or 1/2 if you have big carrots or don't like the sweetness that carrot imparts)
1/2 cup chopped onion, med. dice for purposes of measuring. More or less to taste.
...combine these three items and chop fine in cuisinart, set aside

(optional..crimini mushrooms, coarse dice. These cook down to about one third their initial size and cast a lot of juice in the process which may be poured off into the stock with no effect on its subsequent thickening. To your taste and bite with these.)

plain vegetable oil for sauteeing. not olive oil, not any other type of oil like canola, safflower, corn etc. just plain VEGETABLE OIL. NOT MARGARINE. NOT BUTTER.

plain beer, like Miller. nothing flavored, fancy or extra dark needed here. crack a can and enjoy it while you cook; you'll only be using a two-count pour of it.

white zinfandel or any 'blush' crap wine, for deglazing

1. Take the cooled breadcrumbs, the cornstarch, and the milk and add them to the 1 cup of stock in the jar. Place the lid on and shake until the contents are mixed throughly and there are no big chunks or dry places, and set aside. Return and shake this mixture throughout the rest of the gravy making process so that the contents don't settle to the bottom and turn into a brick. This slurry mixture may be made in the morning and set aside to soak, and be shaken occasionally, until it's time for dinner. The longer the crumbs have to rehydrate and cast their flavor the better .

2. Place the remaining stock and juice combination into a saucepan and heat to low.

3. In a large saute pan, (bare steel or well-seasoned cast iron works well, but not calphalon because it's bullshit and definately NOT teflon because you're trying to develop a fond here) add a little vegetable oil and the chopped vegetables (not the mushrooms, though, if you are using them). DO NOT crowd the pan. Saute and turn. When the vegetables have become golden, add a small amount of the beer(a slosh, in technical terms). It will foam up briefly and then subside. Do not panic. When the contents of the pan have returned to the volume they were before the addition of the beer (in other words, reduced) pour the contents into the warm stock. DO NOT SCRAPE THE PAN.
( optional step-now add the mushrooms and a little more oil. Pour whatever juice they cast into the stock. When the mushrooms are dark and beginning to brown a little, pour into stock. As above, DO NOT SCRAPE THE PAN.)

4. Replace pan on fire. When the bottom begins to sizzle, pour in a little (a slosh) of the wine so that the pan bubbles and foams up. Using a spoon or hard spatula, scrape and stir the bottom of the pan until all the crud on the bottom is lifted and mixed into the wine. Continue to stir. Use your nose, now, and smell the steam. When it no longer has that sharp 'booze' smell, dump the contents into the stock. NOW you scrape the pan.

5. Raise the heat on the stock. When the surface shimmers, shake the contents of the slurry jar and then stir them into the hot stock. An ideal tool for this is a flat bottomed spring style whisk, NOT a balloon whisk. Do not whisk, just stir constantly. Do not flail. Do not panic. The stock will turn murky; this is fine.
Your sauce should begin to 'kick' momentarily. Small dark blobby pieces like clouds will rise to the surface of the stock. Now you should begin to pay careful attention to getting the entire bottom of the pot stirred. Figure eights all over, right down on the bottom of the pan. Now the thickening will commence and you will feel the new resistance increasing as you stir.
During this portion of our show the contents of the pan will begin a small boil. As long as you are attentively stirring the bottom of the pan and you are not meeting any resistance or speed bumps there you are fine. The instant you begin to feel resistance, take the pan off the fire and set it on a cool burner. Continue stirring as before until the bubbles stop rising. (at this point you can go back and forth to the burner if you feel the mixture needs the extra high cooking.) In a few more moments, stop stirring. Take off the fire. Let this sit over the oven vent for the rest of your meals cooking time, and stir it again before you serve it. You may also strain it, or run an immersion blender through it if you like a smooth gravy. NOW taste it for salt and add as needed!

It am good!

Sometimes gravy just flat doesn't gravy; it refuses to thicken. The reasons for this include cursing by Gypsies, so go look it up elsewhere if you're interested. But how do you fix it?
Take the pan filled with the failed gravy off the fire. Fill up the sink with cold water and set the pan in it, as deep as possible with out overflowing, and stir very briskly. Now is a good time to use that balloon whisk. What you're trying to do is to lower the temperature quickly. Stand there and do this for three minutes or even longer, until you can stick your finger in the liquid without getting burned.
Now spoon off about a half-cup of the liquid into the jar, and drizzle in a little cold milk to further reduce the temp to warm, not cold. To this add a teaspoon of cornstarch and a teaspoon of white flour, cap and shake well.
Return the pan to the fire, and this time raise the heat slowly, stirring, until you have a simmer. The top of the fluid should be moving but not bubbling. Get out your trusty spring whisk and pour the shaken contents of the jar slowly into the liquid, stirring steadily.(It helps to count off a waltz time side, then the other, figure eights, 123, 123, 123) That done, reach over and raise the temperature once again to high, continuing to stir as before, making sure you get the bottom of the pan but not whisking or whipping. When the sauce kicks, it will do so quite suddenly. Do not panic, just keep stirring in waltz time, covering the entire bottom of the pan. When you start to feel resistance on the floor of the pan, take it off the fire, do not return it, and keep stirring until the liquid remains at a constant thickness and the increasing has stopped.
Yay! You are a gravy hero!
How do you fix gravy that has solidified into a hard mass? Drizzle in warm water form the tap and stir. When the desired consistancy is reached, test for salt and adjust seasoning.


  1. Uh....

    I'm sorry, did you post something?

  2. There are far too many NOT and DO NOT 's in this post. I felt I was going to have my knuckles rapped with a wooden spatula at any minute.

    Breadcrumbs? mushrooms? carrots? celery? kitchen sink?
    Whatever happned to juices from the meat, a little water from the cooking vegetables, cornflower & gravy browning? eh? "Cups" measurements mean little to us Europeans (how big is a cup anyhow's?).

    *wanders off muttering about Meatloaf recipes*

  3. Anonymous6:29 AM

    This is the longest gravy recipe I ever read. Is gravy different over there?
    I like my cooking instructors to be forceful, though so I don't mind the shouty bits.

  4. pamela: well? i was asked for a gravy recipe. and it was boring. so I illustrated it so it wouldn't be boring anymore.
    frobi: EGAD, SIR;'GRAVY BROWNING'???? hell, save your money in that case; just toss in a couple of brown crayons.
    philistine! *casts self across recamier with a wrist thrown prettily across her forehead*

  5. realdoc: it's aimed at the gravy neophyte who doesn't object to a touch of the lash. disciplinarian gravy. a hearty homestyle brand of correction.

  6. wow that sounds complicated.
    i'll just buy the crap in the jar - it probably won't quash my self-esteem like ruining 4-hour gravy will.

    i do love the part about the gypsies though. i have a feeling the kitchen gypsies pee in my pots while my back is turned on a regular basis.

  7. what's a cuisinart?
    what does fond mean?
    why does what oil you use matter?
    I like the drinking the beer bit and can probably manage that - it's a bit of a work of art this but I think next time I have 6 weeks off I will definitely give it a whirl!

  8. shit - I really wish I could cook

    you're obviously amazing - I feel really hungry now!

  9. O M G three weeks to make gravy....I dont put that much effort into getting a shag !!!!!

  10. claire: i am really really sorry to hear about your infestation of incontinent nomadic persons. that, um, sucks.*snork*
    ziggi: aiyiyi, sorry! a cuisinart is a robocoupe; a food processor. 'fond' is the wonderful carmelized stuff you get on the bottom of a plain uncoated pan when you saute's full of flavour you can melt off with the wine in the
    'deglazing' process. the oil matters because different oils have different flavours (some of which can get really overpowering when heated, like canola) and for this recipe you want an utterly neutral flavored oil with a high smoke point so that you can get a good fond built up without burning it. smoke point means the temperature at which the particular oil breaks down and starts to smoke and catch fire. which is bad, and sucks.

  11. You had me from Brown Gravy!
    Naturally my male (reptilian) brain found it impossible to focus on your recipe because the food synapses shut down when the sex stimuli show up...
    so I will just have to take your word on it.

  12. sweet jaysus, i don't know what's more frightening - that you take 2 days to make gravy, or those photos! i understand the cooking directions, but i don't understand that last picutre. what is it?!

  13. 1. If I don't have a spring whisk, can I use one shaped like a squid?

    2. Does it matter if I missed huge chunks of the recipe because I was too busy wondering if I look like the fat lady on the left end of the kickline and was overcome with a fit of giggles when I realized that there were such things as pornographic 8-track tapes?

    3. Shit. I used Schaffel instead of Waltz.

    4. Can I come to your house for dinner? We can only have vegetarian stuff at mine.

  14. I could use so recipes I didn't know it took that long. If I'm in the mood for gravy that would answer my questions.
    As for the pictures wowee. You don't know what to expect. The photos nice and confusing. I like wacky.
    I like the fat girls I like to draw fat girls.

  15. you should write a cookbook FN.

    no, you should illustrate a cookbook! :-)

  16. beast; IT DOESN'T TAKE THREE DAYS!!!! and obviously you've been frequenting the wrong type of establishment.
    HE: a difference?
    cb: IT DOES NOT TAKE TWO DAYS TO MAKE THIS GRAVY! i think the lst picture is little bunny foo-foo hopping through the forest, though.

    danator: 1. yes. any marine invertebrate shaped kitchen implement will do. 2. go back and start all over. 3. try klezmer 4. theres a version of this using miso, actually....
    megan: fat people are fun to draw! they are more interesting, i think.
    kyah: if more recipes were illustrated a'la FN, i think there would be a renewed interest in home cookin'.

  17. That one guy in "The Office Party" picture looks as if he is about to scold the one in the heels: "You're gonna poke an eye out with those things!"

  18. Gravy, smavy....give me more of your downhome cooking.

    I find it amusing and fulfilling.

    Or maybe not.

    In that case.......dang!

  19. would take me three weeks to make , by which time I would have starved to death , and would be all your fault.Can we have some Beast/Male friendly recipes please? .As a gender we have an attention span slightly longer than a goldfish......its all those bits dangling below , they are kinda distracting.You girls have nooooooooo idea

  20. mutha: you're right. and just think; that was the era of the pointy bra, too.
    awaiting: thats just about as downhome as it gets. gravy and porn! gimme that gravy and porn!
    beast: oh yes, i know just EZACKLY how distracting those dangly bits are, darling.

  21. THIS is the way I would like to cook, if I ever did cook, which I don't.

    "1 heaping teaspoon cornstarch-if it's a rainy day you may add a little more": With the weather you've been having, I guess you would use 3 cups of cornstarch? Snicker.

    A comment on Frobisher's comment:
    "how big is a cup anyhow's?" Answer: Depends on the size of your tits. Duh...