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Monday, June 21, 2010

My favorite sauce and gravy pan!

I love brownies. So when I first started out cooking in cast iron, I decided to get an 8 inch skillet, specifically for baking cornbread and brownies. I figured at the time, that it would be too small to be useful for anything else. Boy, was I wrong!

It's now my favorite small skillet for making roux, sauces, and gravies.

Making roux is different from making gravy. I'm actually fairly new to roux, but it's made from equal amounts of cooking oil and flour.

Now for gravy. Sometimes I use cornstarch, sometimes flour. The general rule is to use half as much cornstarch as you would gravy, but I like my gravy thick, so I end up adding more anyway.

Here is the fundamental gravy base, upon which all my other sauces and gravies are made: 2 tbsp butter*, 2 tbsp flour (or 1 tbsp cornstarch), 2 cups milk.** I usually end up adding more flour / cornstarch since I like it thick.

*You can certainly use melted fat of whatever meat you're cooking, but I normally use butter.

**If you have stock available, you may use 1 cup stock + 1 cup milk.

Melt the butter, whisk in the flour or cornstarch, add the liquid and continue to whisk. Add more flour or cornstarch if you want it thicker, more liquid if you want it thinner.* Add onion powder, garlic powder, and then the appropriate flavorings for the type of gravy or sauce you want.

*You now have a base for potato soup or clam chowder.

If you have any deglazed fond from the skillet you cooked your meat in, add that.

If you want tomato gravy, add diced canned tomatoes* to the basic gravy and cook down. This gravy is also a base for tomato soup.

*I actually use canned whole tomatoes that I cut up in a bowl. It tastes better that way.

If you want lemon white wine sauce, add lemon juice, white wine and italian seasonings-- it's wonderful on veal!

If you want orange sauce, substitute orange juice for the milk, and if you have orange zest, add.

If you want cheese sauce, add cubed velveeta* and melt. Or, omit the butter and flour and just mix milk into the melted cheese. You now have a base for broccoli cheese soup.

*I actually prefer white american cheese to velveeta now. Use white american cheese.

If you want ham gravy, add worcestershire sauce, "better than bouillon" ham base and a little dijon mustard.

If you want breakfast sausage gravy, add some chopped pieces of cooked sausage. You can use pan drippings instead of butter.

If you want chicken gravy, use half chicken stock, and add "better than bouillon" chicken base.

If you want cream of celery, cook down chopped celery and add to the chicken gravy.

If you want turkey gravy, use half chicken stock, and add "better than bouillon" turkey base.

If you want giblet gravy, cook down chopped giblets and chopped onions in another skillet and add.

If you want seafood sauce, use half seafood stock or clam juice, and add "better than bouillon" seafood base. This sauce is also a base for clam or seafood chowder.

If you want beef gravy, use half beef stock, and add "better than bouillon" beef base. Worcestershire sauce optional.

If you want onion gravy, cook down chopped onions and add to the beef gravy, along with dried minced onions.

If you want mushroom gravy, cook down chopped mushrooms and add to the beef gravy.

The possibilities are endless; This is what I've personally done so far.

I also use cream of chicken soup on a regular basis. But I do enjoy making my own sauces.

Oh, a word to the wise: don't accidentally use corn flour instead of regular flour. I wasn't paying attention one time, and it was the worst gravy I ever had. Don't do that!

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