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Gravy! (And a Book Release)

Turkey Gravey

Photo by Amy Chan

Thanksgiving is almost upon us and I have a book release today with the appropriate title of Last Chance Family.  It’s got an orphaned girl, a confused gambler, a golden-hearted veterinarian, and lots and lots of cats.  You can’t go wrong with cats and orphans and vets when it comes to holiday books — let me tell you.  I’ll get around to telling you more about the book, but this is Thanksgiving week after all and there are more important matters at hand — like cooking. 

So, I thought I’d bypass the usual book hype and get down to something important, like giving y’all a lesson in gravy-making. You’d be surprised how much a writer can learn from the process of making gravy. Let me elucidate:

Step 1: Plan ahead. Making gravy takes all day. It’s not a flash in the pan sort of thing. You start your gravy by throwing a lot of random (and mostly uneatable) stuff it in a pot and simmer it for a long time. You take the giblets and neck from the bird and put them in a saucepan and cover them with water. Put them on a low simmer and cover. The stock you make by doing this becomes the body of the gravy. Be sure you make enough of this stock, otherwise you’ll end up with not enough gravy for your Thanksgiving crowd.

 Step 2: Take the bad stuff out of your gravy. About the time the turkey is ready to come of the oven, you’ll need to strain the stock and remove the neck and giblets. Throw the neck away. No one wants that stuff in their gravy. If you like giblets, dice up the liver and heart and return them to the stock, otherwise, throw that stuff away too. You only want the good stuff in your gravy. This is important! Pour your stock in a liquid measuring cup so you know how many cups you’ve got. Put the stock aside for a moment.

Step 3: Add the secret ingredient: You’ve come to the secret part of making good gravy. You need grease. Grease is to gravy is what conflict is to story. If you don’t have enough grease, you get crappy gravy. So, for each cup of stock you’ll need two tablespoons of the turkey drippings from the bottom of the roasting pan. Make sure those drippings are really heavy on the grease. The grease is what keeps the gravy from getting lumpy. Put the right proportion of grease into a skillet.

Photo by Amy Chan

Photo by Amy Chan

Step 4: Thicken the plot. . .er stock: You need to turn up the heat on this gravy and add flour, which is the stuff that thickens your gravy sort of like a couple of good plot twists. For each tablespoon of grease, you’ll need two tablespoons of flour.

Step 5: Screw up your courage: Now comes the hardest step in making gravy. You must cook the roux made of grease and flour until it is almost burned. It will undoubtedly stick to the bottom of the pan, and start to smoke, and you’ll be absolutely certain that no one in their right mind will ever want to eat this gravy. And you’ll be sure that this whole roux-cooking exercise is taking way too long. But have no fear. The trick to making gravy is to be utterly fearless when it comes to browning the roux. If you chicken out, your gravy will be pale and uninspiring.

Photo by Amy Chan

Photo by Amy Chan

Step 6: A Big finish. We’ve come to the flash in the pan moment. This is where you take all that grease and flour and combine it with your stock. When the roux is really dark brown, pour the stock into the frying pan. You should have a very long spoon when you do this, and stand back, because the stock hitting the hot skillet will make a big whoosh of steam. It’s mildly terrifying when this happens but incredibly satisfying.

Step 7 Let it simmer for a while: You’ve done all the hard stuff, now you just need to reduce the heat and simmer for a while, stirring occasionally, until the gravy is thick.

  I hope this helps y’all with your holiday gravy-making. And while you’re enjoying the holiday, I highly recommend my latest book, Last Chance Family. Here’s the blurb and cover.

 * * * *

Last Chance Family cover_lo resMike Taggart has always been willing to take a gamble. But these stakes are just way too high – there’s no way he’s prepared to become a legal guardian to his five-year-old niece. His only option is to head from Las Vegas to Last Chance to sort things out as quickly as possible. Problem is, he arrives to find an inconsolable little girl, her sick cat, and a gorgeous veterinarian he can’t get out of his mind.

Charlene Polk has two talents: healing sick critters and falling in love with the wrong men. Mike has trouble written all over him, but she can’t leave him in the lurch. And the more time she spends with the sexy high roller, the more she sees that this ready-made family is the best stroke of luck they’ve ever had . . .

 

 

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