Saturday, November 28, 2009

A Respectable Roux

With Thanksgiving, I've had more than usual amounts of gravy this week (the event itself, leftover creations, and a sausage gravy for breakfast).  Some of these involved the use of a roux (a thickener made from cooking a mixture of fat and flour).  While I certainly have dabbled and experimented with thickened gravies and sauces, I certainly have no formal training in this area.  Therefore, I did a small amount of research on the subject of roux and its applications.  It seems that the basic recipe to create a roux is to mix equal parts of flour and fat.  This mixture is then cooked for several minutes to "brown" the flour   Apparently, this cooking step in making a roux allows the starch granules of the flour to swell and absorb moisture, preventing the flour from clumping or forming lumps. Also, cooking the flour removes its raw taste and can give it a slight nutty, toasted flavor.  In order to create the gravy or sauce, the roux is added to a liquid to thicken it.  While this may need to be adjusted for your desired thickeness, the norm seems to be somewhere between 1 and 2 tablespoons or roux per cup of stock (or other liquid).  The right use of a roux should result in flavorful and lump-free sauce or gravy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Fifty Ways to Mash Potatoes

This time of year you can find all kinds of great Thanksgiving dinner recipes.  For me, however, no part of the meal is more important than the mashed potatoes.  For Thanksgiving dinner itself, I have no plans to mess with our tried and true traditional recipe, but Food Network Magazine has published a list of fifty ways to mix up mashed spuds.  If you haven't checked it out yet, some of these look pretty darn tasty.