Tuesday, January 12, 2010

It's a WHISK! So let's make some gravy

Who knew?

My blog pal and friend in real life (we went to our high school homecoming dance together!) Trevor sent this to me for Christmas. It's a Scandinavian (yes, he's all kind of blond fabulousness) birch twig whisk that you can read all about here (plus much other craziness: one minute he's quite unnecessarily on The Zone diet, the next he's making homemade mac and cheese—you find the sense in that).

These whisks are supposed to excellent at producing a smooth gravy by doing a particularly effective job of combining the flour or whatever thickening agent you use.

I was just taking a beer can roasted chicken out of the oven the other day and so decided to give my whisk a whirl.

Everyone who cooks probably has their own way of making gravy. My mom taught me hers, and I hardly ever serve this gravy without receiving a compliment. Here's how we do it.


Whisk pan drippings (which will include grease from the bird and whatever liquid you have used for basting, e.g., white wine or, in this case, beer) in the pan to release baked-on bits.

Pour drippings through a mesh sieve into a glass measuring cup or small bowl. Discard solids in sieve. Spoon off and discard fat that settles as the top layer in the cup. 

Pour liquid into a small pan, keeping off heat. Mix in a small bowl about 3 tablespoons of flour with 1/4 cup of water, pressing with the back of a spoon to form a smooth paste (fine if a few lumps remain—it's going through the sieve again). Whisk paste into liquid in pan. Simmer over gentle heat while whisking until thickened. (Whisking in the thickener before heating helps reduce lumping.)

Continue to cook until reduced and thickened to the consistency you want. Season to taste, which may involve salt if you have not used a kosher bird and perhaps some dry white wine. to assure a velvety smooth gravy, send it through a sieve again on its way to your serving piece. 

And while we're here, here's the chicken recipe. What great about it is that you can roast the chicken at a fairly high heat, thereby reducing roasting time, but still end up with a tender and moist bird. The chicken steams from the inside and roasts from the outside. Pretty simple, just a few tricks.

Rinse chicken and pat dry. Pull open chicken cavity to make sure chicken will fit over beer can.

Spray can of beer with cooking spray. Open can and pour about about a third of the beer (or drink if you can stand canned beer). Place can in roaster pan. Cram chicken over beer can. Use the end of a sharp knife to cut tiny slits in chicken skin all over bird. 

Roast in 450 degree oven for about an hour and a half, until leg joint is loose and juice from it runs clear. 

Let chicken rest for about 15 minutes and then remove from beer can with a pair of large tongs. Discard can and beer (don't be tempted to add the beer to the pan drippings—you'll have as much beer taste as you want already).

Thank you, Trevor, for the whisk and for the inspiration to head back to the kitchen after my holiday wake/ski/cook/crash/repeat marathon. I'm looking forward to another year of exchanging recipes and tips. And I'm just going to ignore that Zone business.  xo


Kelli said...

Cindy - I love your blog. Originally from Oakland and now in the Southbay of LA. We're heading up to Alpine Meadows (rental home) for ski week -- total party will be 4 + adults and 4+ kids. I'd love to hear what great ideas you have to transport up the mtn. I'm not looking to be Martha but rather just have some good food on the table. Btw, TJs is my most favorite store! Thanks.

Trish said...

How in the world does it not break when you're whisking? Is it flexible or like dried twigs. I'm always up for a new kitchen gadget!

Trevor said...

Oh dear. Can I help it if I feel fat one day and then crave mac and cheese with champagne the next? I'm just like that. I hope to capture more of that in the coming month as things have been nuts!

Trish, these things are indestructible. My mom's has lasted about 20 years. The link is off my blog if you are interested.

Trevor said...

Cindy, I always make the pan gravy in the pan! I return the pan drippings (sans fat and strained) to the pan. Using the whisk I add stock or wine (or whatever, if needed)and a bit of thickener. Press the whisk down in the pan somewhat horizontally, mashing the twigs so they spread. Move along the bottom of the pan in a motion that will bring up the bits and spread the flour around. It works! No need to 'dissolve' the wondra in water first!

Kate said...

Oooh! Something new to add to my birthday list!

I always save any leftover gravy (husband doesn't like gravy - I married him anyway!)to throw in my chicken soup. It's a subtle change to the soup but I really like it that way!

gwendomama said...

Gravy: Best every time. Seriously. 4th time I made the beer butt chicken and omg yum.