08 December 2009
Last night's dinner was a simple pot roast, but I changed it up a little and it was better than ever. And it didn't take much extra time or effort.
Instead of adding water to my green-with-white-speckles roasting pan, I added a carton and a half of beef stock. I put the veggies (carrots, onions, potatoes) in first and then sprinkled them liberally with salt and parsley. Then I placed the roast (still frozen because of a miscommunication with the kidlets) on top of the veggies, where it sat above the level of the broth and the juices would run down onto the veggies.
After roasting for 4 hours (I told you it was frozen), we removed everything from the pot and covered it with foil to keep warm. Normally, I serve the juice alongside the roast, but yesterday was cold (for Arizona) and rainy and I felt like making some gravy.
I got out my trusty Culinary Artistry and looked up 'beef'. We strained the juice into a pot, which I then turned on to simmer after adding some chopped shallots, basil, red wine, and a bit of salt and white pepper.
On another burner, I made a blond roux in a small skillet. (I would have made a darker roux, but my family was as hungry as a pack of wolves, so I thought it best to speed up the process a little.) Once the roux was cooked sufficiently, I added a little of the broth to the skillet to begin the process of loosening up the roux to make it easier to incorporate into the broth. Then I whisked the loosened roux into the pot of broth and served. It was the first beef gravy I've ever made, and the best beef gravy I've ever eaten.
I used to make gravy with milk shaken together with flour and poured into whatever base I was using. In order to avoid lumps, I had to stand over it and whisk it constantly (and hope I'd added enough flour to thicken it, but not too much milk to dilute the flavour). In order to get rid of the floury taste, I had to simmer it for quite awhile (whisking the whole time). It was a hot and steamy business.
By using roux, the gravy comes together much more easily and I know it won't taste floury, since the flour is cooked more efficiently in the skillet than in the base. And since the butterfat coats the flour particles, they don't clump together, which gives me a smoother gravy with less effort.