Saturday, November 5, 2016

Sunset Magazine, make ahead white wine gravy

This comes from Sunset November 2016 issue.

Sunset says that by not relying on pan drippings this approach takes the hassle out of gravy. See, you bake a turkey and make a gravy from the pan drippings and that last minute task is a hassle. It advises to have the broth measured and ready to whisk in at the right moment after the flour is browned.

The new technique prepares a broth using carcass bits from the turkey and mirepoix vegetables and herbs boiled together, then you brown dry flour in the same pot and then whisk in the broth that you made.

The whole approach is a bit backwards. First you make turkey broth by boiling the turkey backbone, the neck, the tail, pieces of giblets excepting the liver, with carrots, onion, celery and thyme and chicken broth and wine for a few hours then straining out the solids for a couple quarts of broth.

You do not chill to separate the layers of fat, aspic, and liquid.

Then in the same pot you brown considerable dry flour. More than 1 tablespoon per cup because browned flour has less thickening ability. So says Sunset. They have you brown the flour for ten minutes until it smokes and develops a rich brown color. They are suggesting 1 + 1/4 flour for 2 cups of the broth you prepared to form a smooth paste then add additional 6 cups of prepared broth and 1/2 cup more wine and more thyme for a final flavor boost. Bring to boil for ten minute to blend the flavors. Adjust with salt and pepper to taste.


This bugs me. It’s pretty much why Sunset is not useful for me.

The recipe has no butter. It is relying on the fat from the turkey protein added at the beginning and inside the broth that is not separated. Not controlled for amount of fat. Whatever you have there in the back, tail, and skin of your turkey pieces will be the amount of fat in the final gravy. That’s taking a chance and leaving flavor to happenstance. It’s careless.

The combination of butter and wine is just tremendous. This combination is one of the more powerful contributions of French style cooking and it’s dismissed by Sunset’s suggestion.

No. Don’t do that. Don’t miss the opportunity for butter and wine. Just don’t do that. Nothing is gained in convenience for dismissing that opportunity. Browning the dry flour is plainly silly.

Cajun cooks make their roux with oil and flour and brown the flour that way to desired darkness, blond, light brown to very dark brown.

French cooks use butter and do the same thing. The butter browns to noisette (hazelnut color) and so does the flour.

If the turkey broth is chilled then the fat and the aspic can be separated and controlled. The fat added here with butter to brown the flour to desired darkness and have the flavor of both butter and turkey fat. The French have mastered this technique. It is not improved by Sunset’s bizarre reversal. I don’t even have to taste them in a side by side comparison to know that the butter wine combination will win any contest. Wine added to butter is magnificent and Sunset’s technique dismisses that magnificence. Their technique merely adds wine to liquid and that shortchanges the end product. Good as their gravy will taste, it would be much improved by sticking to French tradition of butter (and turkey fat) roux with their mirepoix vegetables added. This way the vegetables are browned along with the roux and you'll have all the levels of complexity that Maillard reaction contributes.

Those two contributions are missing in Sunset’s approach. They get the flour browned and that’s it. So naked. They could have butter with wine, a synergistic magnificence, and vegetable browning as well, for a much richer gravy.

Look, credit where it due, the French have this whole butter roux and with mirepoix vegetables and wine thing down to an art form. It cannot be improved with Sunset shortcuts and reversals. Everything imaginable has already been tried. And the Sunset approach of browning dry flour with all the liquid dumped directly into it is no shortcut, no convenience, no advantage with no improvement. Sunset will lead you astray.


Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

Sunset recipes are usually not tested. It ain't Cook's.

ricpic said...

"Remember to SAVE THE GIBLETS!"

Chip Ahoy said...

I've used the liver in broth and in stuffing, and it's fine either way. I don't know what their problem is.

rcocean said...

Drink enough wine and eat the butter.

You can't that combo.

Vive la France!