Gobble a Turkey, ASAP

What is the difference between Sauce and Gravy? That question alone can lead to endless debates, degenerating into anger fueled mock-elitist screaming matches where everyone pounds their tiny fists on the table, ears securely disabled. We are not going to even go there. We are about inclusion, not distinction. Sauce and Gravy have one thing in common, and it’s the only thing that matters. Gravy/Sauce is a slightly or heavily thickened liquid delivery system for salt, carbo and fat, just as tobacco is a delivery system for nicotine. Is Turkey Gravy an addiction? We shall see.

Okay, that may be a little bit cynical. Sauce and gravy utilize everything with flavor that might be left over from the preparation of proteins. Bones, trimmings, cartilage, sinew, connective tissue, all the things that primitive populations dared not waste for fear of starvation during the impending famine. Pretty much everything but hair, and some awful offal that just couldn’t be converted into anything sweet or savory. Somebody must have discovered that these things could be dissolved in boiling water to create a flavorful and nutritious broth, although I can’t really imagine Ron Perlman and his cohorts in that movie having the wherewithal to figure it out. On the other hand, Rae Dawn Chong’s tribe was much more resourceful…Somewhere along the line, somebody realized that thickening the broth would cause it to linger on our tongues, providing not only a more lasting flavor sensation, but a little carbo fix besides.

By the time Napoleon showed up, the European aristocracies had developed an interest in gastronomy, and were subsidizing its development just like they subsidized sculpture, painting, music, and other artistic pursuits. The preparation of food for the wealthy became very formalized and elaborate, albeit poorly informed scientifically. Sauces and sweets became extremely popular and were viewed as particularly healthy. Many gastronomes of that era considered refined sugar and butter to be the perfect foods. Actually, I still believe that. Okay, let’s make some Turkey Demi.

Set the Turkey controls @155F, Star Date, Thanksgiving

 

  • After separating the breasts, legs, and thighs from the carcass, I bagged up the bones in 2 Ziploc Gallon bags, each with 2 quarts of water — ONE GALLON TOTAL. Worthy of note.
  • I then used the circulator and vessel, set at 155F, to cook the carcasses enough so that I could remove any meat that we missed during the boning process.
  • I did the legs and thighs at the same time, x6 hours.

  • After four hours, I removed the carcass from the broth, which is now the beginning of a very rich stock.
  • At this stage we have a gallon of stock. Reduction, like so many other culinary terms, is not what people think it is. We’re going to talk about it a little later in the demo.

  • As expected, we have a lot of coagulated albumins in the stock, so we will filter them out right away.

  • I love toys, but you don’t need anything fancy.
  • A pot big enough for all the stock, preferably with a thick bottom.
  • Your basic kitchen strainer, and a clean WET towel — it’s wet so it doesn’t collect stock in it.
  • You might have to think about it for a minute, but that makes a lot of sense.

  • This part takes a little love, and it’s easiest if the bones are not too hot and not too cold.
  • You’re not going to get ALL the meat off, but, not to worry — it contributes heavily to the final product. Even so, we got almost a pound of shredded turkey.
  • That’s probably gonna go into the dressing, I haven’t really decided. It makes great soup, turkey salad.

  • Bag it up and refrigerate it right away, for safety purposes.

  • Remove the wings and their tips from the vessel. They were fired at the same time as the carcass.
  • Reserve the wings themselves.

  • Harvest the fat.
  • It will be used to roast the Mirepoix.

Sauce Ingredients:

  • Turkey (you knew that).
  • celery, 1 head, cut coarsely.
  • carrots, 3, cut coarsely.
  • onions, 2, cut coarsely.
  • tomato paste, 2, six oz. cans.
  • neutral oil, 2 fluid oz.
  • flour, 1/2 cup.
  • S+P, to taste.

 

Mirepoix.

  • Celery, 1 head, 2 onions if you got’em (I only had one), 3 carrots.
  • Spread them out on parchment or something non-stick.
  • Pour the turkey fat that we harvested from roasting the turkey skins over the vegetables — this will give you nicely browned vegetables, instead of just parched ones.

  • Roast for ABOUT an hour @350F, until they get like this–quite dark.
  • You can see the oil on that piece of celery in the bottom.

  • If you have space in the oven, roast the picked carcasses at the same time. Again, dark, dry, but not burnt. At least an hour.
  • I like non stick parchment, because it collects a lot of drippings, and you can actually just kind of sit it on top of the stock afterwards and the drippings will melt in.
  • Waste nothing.

  • Here we heat the 1 gallon of stock, with the roasted carcasses and roasted vegetables.
  • DO NOT BOIL. Simmer between 183F and 200F.
  • This is where people start to get confused about reductions.
  • It is not necessary, or desirable, to furiously boil stock in order to cause it to reduce.
  • Reduction is a slow process, relaxed, and full of love and patience.
  • The higher the boil, the more aroma in the room.
  • Think about that.
  • We really want to keep that aroma IN the stock, not coating the furniture.

  • 2 cans of good old fashioned tomato paste, spread thin on parchment, or even foil.

  • Roast the tomato paste @350F until it gets brown, even almost black.
  • This is the minimum amount of color.
  • Sometimes the whole surface gets really really dark, and that’s okay, as long as it’s still paste, and not powder.
  • Half an hour if you’re anxious, 1 hour if you’re busy doing something else.
  • Add this to your stock, and GENTLY stir. Don’t even stir, just push it down into the stock.
  • You really don’t want to agitate the stock. It could get mad.

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  • This stock should simmer, again, between 183F and 200F for at least 6 hours. I leave it on the stove over night, because I have a sleep disorder and I’m never away from it more than 5 hours.
  • Obviously, you don’t want it to spend hours between 70F and 100F.
  • You will see, by the time you strain it, being careful to really give the juices time to drip off the bones and vegetables, that you have about 2 quarts, maybe a little more.
  • Huh. You now have a reduced stock.

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  • This is the way mine comes out.
  • Keep in mind, I have done this at least ten thousand times.
  • Results may vary, but there’s really no mystery.
  • If you take the time, you will get this. It looks thick, but it’s more like heavy.
  • Not pasty from the tomato, you don’t want that. It’s just a very, very, deep broth–without ANY boiling.

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  • As you can see, there is but a tiny bit of fat floating on the top.
  • It can easily be skimmed with a tablespoon. Or, you CAN refrigerate, and all that fat will form a stiff sheet on top that you can break off.
  • I’m going to the church potluck tonight, so, we gots to keep rollin’.
  • Some chefs stop here, and just drizzle drops of the jus, sort of a modern approach, and I like that.
  • If you want to do that, just taste your broth, fold in a little cold butter, and put it in a squirt bottle.
  • We’re going to complete the traditional version, because I want to talk about roux.

Roux is a magical, mysterious thing, misunderstood  on multiple levels.

  • As an example, un-thickened broths are considered quite healthy, yes? We happily consume cups of clear broth when we’re down with a cold or the flu, and don’t consider them to add any caloric footprints to our daily diet.
  • But, thickened sauces are considered heavy, fattening, cholesterol laden and sinful, yes? *sigh* smh. The difference between a clear broth and a thickened sauce is mere nano-grams of flour and oil.  1 tablespoon of flour, mixed with 1/2  tablespoon of oil, can thicken 12 oz. of broth into a very tight sauce. If you allow 3 oz. by volume per serving, that works out to about a teaspoon of flour per person, dissolved in about 1/2 of a teaspoon of oil.
  • I mean, come on.
  • Yes, there is cream in some sauces. About 1 tablespoon of cream per person, IF THE SAUCE IS MADE PROPERLY. Is that really gonna clog your arteries?
  • How much whipped cream do we put on our pumpkin pie?
  • Or, rather, how much pumpkin pie should we serve with that gigantic plate of whipped cream?
  • Sauce is love. Feel it.

 

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  • We are going to make this so simple, a caveman could do it.
  • Ron Perlman’s character in that movie could do it, if Rae Dawn Chong showed him how.
  • Actually, Ron didn’t get the girl in that movie, but the guy that did retired from acting. He peaked early.
  • OKAY, for 2 quarts of rich brown stock, we need 2 fluid oz. of neutral vegetable oil.
  • We’re going to heat it, so don’t go chi chi. EVOO is wasted in roux, and butter can’t stand the heat that we are going to use. Another common misconception.

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  • 1/2 cup of all purpose flour–less than 3 oz. by weight.
  • Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan to 325F — an infrared thermometer is best for this.
  • The temperature of oil is otherwise difficult to detect safely.
  • You can sprinkle a tiny bit of flour in the oil and see if it foams.
  • It should.
  • Some people throw a few drops of water in there to see if it explodes on to their skin and face.
  • It might. Please don’t do that.

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  • REMOVE THE PAN FROM THE HEAT.
  • Wrap your hand in a towel just to be safe.
  • Sprinkle in the flour, and stir lightly with a whip. It should sizzle and foam, but if it attacks you, your oil was too hot.
  • If you don’t think that stuff is hot and sticky, just remember what happened to Al Green.
  • Roux is very clingy, pretty much like applying a cigarette directly to the skin and holding it there.
  • If you can quickly brush it off, it will most likely take your skin with it. Be careful.

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  • You CAN return the pan to medium heat to cook a little longer, but you really don’t need to.
  • Yet another misconception about roux. Roux is not intended to provide color to sauces (except Gumbo roux).
  • Roux burns easy, and if you see tiny black flecks in there, start over. That flavor is extremely concentrated and quite unpleasant.

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  • If you keep cooking the roux over medium heat for a few minutes, it will get a little yellow pallor, and look a little bit fluffy.
  • At that point, remove from heat, and allow to cool for ten minutes.
  • Really, this is important.
  • If you add the hot stock to the hot roux, it WILL jump right out of the pan at you.
  • We used to watch this happen to apprentices and laugh hysterically, but we were cruel and stupid.
  • It’s not funny. It’s downright dangerous.

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  •  Add the hot stock to the room temperature roux, and apply medium heat.
  • There are other ways to do this that always involve combining one hot component with one cold component, but this is the easiest.
  • The sauce will come to a boil almost instantly, so there is a minimum of simmering required.
  • I have not figured out a way to make this work in a SV vessel. The temperatures just aren’t high enough to disperse the roux, and it’s hard to stir a sauce in a plastic bag.
  • Believe me, I’ve tried.

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  • Stir with a whip, but don’t whip with a whip.
  • Excessive whipping can break the sauce.
  • Nothing should stick to the pan because of the short interval.
  • And there we have it.
  • Lumps are unlikely, but if you strain the sauce, you will see a few.
  • Taste, taste, and taste again.
  • If you want to cool it off, shock it in a Ziploc Quart bag just like we do everything else.
  • Once it hits 70F, you can refrigerate it.
  • You’re gonna love the way it tastes.

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