Poultry Gravy (do ahead, or for when you just want some)

IMG_8597Sometimes it’s just way easier to do something ahead of time.

Every “gather-round-the-table” celebration is more enjoyable if the tasks are shared between several, and it isn’t all done “just before”. When a turkey is pulled from the oven, and set to rest on its cutting board, there are usually other pots simmering, and people talking & visiting. So here’s a tip.

Make your gravy ahead of time. Any juices from your bird can be set in the fridge for the next day or two, making it easy to remove any fat. Then the juices can be frozen, ready for the next time you want gravy. The only downside to this is that you need to have kept those juices for that time.

Here’s a do-ahead gravy that is started from scratch, using some bits of poultry like wings, neck, or even chopped up legs. You can make as much as you want on a day that you pick.

For this year’s Thanksgiving feast, the turkey, stuffing, and three side dishes will be brought by others, leaving me to do a couple of pies, cranberry sauce, potatoes & gravy. As ours truly is the “home-that-gathers”, I am looking forward to the happy chatter and laughter that I am so very thankful for.IMG_8594

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Three Cheese Macaroni

IMG_5944As a kid I found macaroni & cheese to be too bland.  I could get through a serving if I had enough pickles.   Apparently, though, I was a rarity.  Macaroni & Cheese was part of pretty much any Children’s section on a menu, and presented frequently at Potlucks for “the kids”.  I watched in horror as other children slathered it in ketchup and gobbled it up.  Then there was the boxed version, Kraft Dinner.  My older brother and sister would share a box upon returning home from school some days.  I would go to my room.

It wasn’t until I had children of my own, that I realized why kids are served Mac & Cheese, a protein-laden pasta dish that would fill them up.  Texture is important to children when eating, and it has a very consistent texture, so doesn’t get picked apart.

However, my palate still wasn’t buying it!  So I started to play around.  Typically when I make a simple white sauce, I add bay leaves to the heated milk, and nutmeg to the finished sauce.  By adding a pinch of cayenne, it gave it a bit more zest.

I had always used aged cheddar, but added in some Parmesan and Gruyère, which definitely upped the flavour.

It wasn’t until reading Martha Stewart’s Favorite Comfort Food in the late 90’s that I found the one missing element that would raise my concoction to just what I was looking for, by adding a topping of buttered fresh bread crumbs.

This mixture of zest, cheeses & crumb elevates the lowly macaroni & cheese of my childhood, to something I am proud to serve, and even enjoy myself. Continue reading