Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Gluten-free Gravy Tips and Recipe

I am a gravy lover. I get asked all the time what I do about gravy for the holidays, and I assure you that I don't go without.  If you like gravy but you have never made it gluten-free, here's what to do.

  • Use a standard recipe like the one below or any from the Joy of Cooking - no need for a special technique, just sub out the glutenous flour for something safe.
  • When selecting a GF flour for the recipe, be sure to avoid flour blends that already have thickeners like guar gum, xanthan gum, psyllium husk, flax seeds, or chia seeds.  These thickeners will clump up your gravy and make them much too thick.  I use my No. 1 All-Purpose Flour for gravy because it doesn't have any thickeners or additives, and can be subbed out cup-for-cup for "regular" flour.
  • You can use a single flour like corn starch, which is a classic used by gluten eaters.  However, keep in mind that using a starch like corn starch or tapioca starch will give you a transluscent gravy.  A good blend like the No. 1 All-Purpose Flour will mimic regular flour in texture and look.
  • To avoid lumps, whichever flour you are using, blend the flour with some water or broth to make a smooth paste before adding it to the gravy pan.
  • If you are not the one who is cooking the turkey or making the gravy, either make a batch on your own and bring it with you to the meal (a roasted chicken is perfect for a smaller batch of gravy) or offer to help make the gravy for everyone and bring some GF flour with you to the gathering.  If you haven't made gravy before, keep in mind that it has to be made in the critical moments after the turkey is out of the oven and before everyone sits down for dinner.  Try to plan accordingly so you pose the least inconvenience to the host.
The recipe I use is a mix of how my mom taught me to make gravy and some tips from the Joy of Cooking, which I have adapted slightly for my own tastes and routine.  This book is a great resource for me on Turkey Day.  I reference it for everything from cooking the turkey to making the pie.  It also has a section on gluten-free cooking that I found very useful when I was first starting out.

Classic Gravy Recipe

Makes about 12 servings from a medium-sized turkey

While the turkey is cooking, use the giblets to make some stock for the gravy.  Combine in a saucepan:

Giblets from turkey
about 5 cups water

Simmer until needed, or about 2-4 hours.

When the time approaches to make the gravy, or even before the turkey is out of the oven, combine in a bowl until smooth and set aside:

6 Tbsp No. 1 All-Purpose Flour
1/2 cup water or stock

After removing the turkey from the roasting pan, pour all the liquid drippings into a fat separator like this.  Put the pan over two burners on the stove and pour in about:

4 cups stock

Use chicken stock if you don't have enough giblet stock.  Reserve some if possible.  Turn on two burners under the roasting pan on medium-low.  With a wooden spoon, scrape up any brown bits off the bottom of the pan.  When the stock is simmering and the brown bits are worked into the stock, slowly pour in 1/ 2 of the flour mixture a bit at a time, constantly stirring the gravy as you do.  By this time the fat and the juices from the pan should have separated in your fat separator.  Pour any juices into the pan, retaining the fat in the separator as much as possible.  Keep stirring the gravy and assess what you might need next.

  • If the sauce looks like a delicious, silky gravy, congratulations!  You may be done.  Taste the gravy to see if it needs salt or pepper.  If not, it's ready.
  • If the gravy is a good texture but much too salty, add some water and some more of the flour mixture, stir to incorporate, and taste again.
  • If the sauce looks separated and greasy, don't fret.  This is normal.  Just add some water or soup stock a bit at a time, and stir to incorporate.  The sauce will come together like magic.
  • If the mixture seems too dry or is sticking to the bottom of the pan, turn down the heat, scrape the pan again, and add more soup stock if needed.  Keep stirring until everything smooths out.
  • If the sauce seems too thin, turn up the heat a little and add a bit more of the flour and water mixture, then stir until you get the desired consistency.
  • If the gravy seems fine but the flour got lumpy, then turn down the heat and use a whisk to break the lumps apart. A silicon flat whisk helps me quickly get the gravy smoothed out. 
When the sauce is perfect, scrape it into a gravy boat and serve hot.  Now enjoy your gravy!