Tag Archives: gravy

German Themed Christmas Menu – Sauerbraten and Gravy, Rotkohl and Gingerbread Cookies

I had planned on a traditional Christmas meal featuring a roast turkey and its accompaniments, but, less than a week before the event, I changed my mind, and decided on a German themed menu. Perhaps because I made gingerbread cookies. Or perhaps because I ran across an eye of round roast while rooting around in the freezer, which had been labelled ‘for sauebraten’. In any case, this is what I ended up with.

For the vegetable side dish, I went outside my comfort zone and chose to try ‘rotkohl’ or braised German red cabbage. I started with the Better Homes and Gardens recipe but added some more vinegar (cider), because the flavour seemed flat after tasting. I also added a heaping tablespoon of home made cranberry sauce. I cooked the cabbage for about thirty minutes until it was limp but still had some chew to it. If you want it more tender, cook it longer.

Braised Red Cabbage (Rotkohl) – serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable oil*
1/2 onion, finely diced*
2 tbsp packed brown sugar
1/4 cup vinegar
1/4 cup water
1/4 tsp caraway seed
1/4 tsp salt, add more to taste
dash of freshly ground black pepper
2 cups shredded red cabbage
3/4 cup coarsely chopped peeled apple
1-2 tbsp cranberry sauce, to taste

* Substitute with 2 tbsp sauted onion.

In a large skillet, saute the onion in vegetable oil over medium/medium-low heat until soft and just beginning to get golden brown.

Add the brown sugar, vinegar, caraway seed, water, salt and pepper. Cook 2 to 3 minutes until everything is hot, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the shredded cabbage and diced apple. Cook, covered, over medium/medium-low heat 20 to 30 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally.

After 20 minutes or so, taste for seasoning and add more salt and pepper as needed. If you want a tangier cabbage, stir in some more vinegar. For a sweeter cabbage, add a bit more sugar. For a seasonal touch, stir in some cranberry sauce (home made or bought) and let it melt into the cabbage.

Sauerbraten DinnerĀ  – Yes, I forgot to plate the braised red cabbage until after I took the pictures. I may post the sauerbraten recipe I used in the New Year just for my own records. Until then, enjoy the pictures.

For the starch, I stuck with mashed potatoes, but topped them with ‘sauerbraten gravy’ … crushed gingersnaps/gingerbread cookies stirred into the strained braising liquid from the sauerbraten. To be honest, I couldn’t picture this actually turning into a gravy, so I prepared a ‘beurre manie’, a paste consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour which can be whisked into a hot liquid until it thickens to the degree desired. It turned out that the crushed cookies were more efficient at thickening the liquid than I expected and, in future I would use half the amount that I used because I had to thin my gravy down a LOT to get it to be pouring consistency.

Cooking the meal was a true learning experience, and, on the whole, a successful one. I don’t know that I’d repeat the menu in the future but, for this Christmas, it was a delicious meal.

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A Comfort Meal for Christmas … Pot Roast

Cooking for one is a challenge during the holidays. You want something special but an elaborate spread is time consuming and can be expensive. The roast below was economical and the long braising time turned a tough piece of beef into a tender and tasty main course.

The outside roast I cooked was small (1.2 kg) so the cooking time was shorter than in the recipe that inspired it. And, while it was braising, there was plenty of time to make the side dishes. I added some new, Christmas-inspired, treats to the meal to make it special.

Purchased Egg nog with a shot of brandy and a grating of fresh nutmeg

Pot Roast, mushroom gravy over mashed potatoes, pot veggies and salad

Mincemeat No-Churn Ice Cream and Mincemeat Kolach

The mincemeat ice cream was a simple variation of the cranberry sauce one I made a while ago. To save time, I’ve posted the recipe below.

Mincemeat No-Churn Ice Cream – makes 3 1/2 – 4 cups

3/4 cups whipping cream
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup mincemeat, plus another tbsp or 2 for marbling
1 tbsp brandy

In a large cold bowl, whip the cream until stiff peaks form.

In a medium sized bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, brandy and the mincemeat.

Add a scoop or two of the whipped cream to the bowl with the sweetened condensed milk and fold in to lighten the mixture. Fold in the rest of the whipped cream as gently as possible.

Scoop half of the ice cream mixture into a freezer safe container. Place several dollops of mincemeat over the ice cream. Scoop the rest of the ice cream mixture into the container. Place a few more dollops of mincemeat over the top. With a butter knife gently marble the mincemeat into the ice cream. Put the lid on the container and place into freezer for a minimum of 8 hrs or overnight.

Cranberry Sauce Variation: Replace the mincemeat in the recipe above with home made or jarred cranberry sauce. Use whatever alcohol you prefer … Cointreau or Grand Marnier bring out the orange notes in the cranberry sauce recipe I used.

Cooking the pot roast – The roast is seasoned with salt and pepper and seared before continuing with the rest of the braise.

The pot roast was tender after 3 hrs but it could have been cooked for another half hour if desired.

Mushroom gravy made with sauteed white mushrooms and strained braising liquid.

It’s All Gravy … Tomato and Duck

My mom only made one kind of gravy.

It started with bacon fat.

About once a month, my dad would slice up slab bacon with the thick rind on it, like in “the old country”, for the two of them. It took forever to render down enough of the fat to get any bacon grease but the results were worth it. (My brother and I liked the regular kind of bacon – thin slices, plumped up with water so it didn’t have a lot of flavour – but it crisped up quickly and the drippings were SO tasty.)

After frying up a pound or so of the bacon in her old cast iron frying pan, my mom would drain off most of the fat, leaving a few tablespoons in the pan, and add about the same amount of flour. She’d whisk the flour into the fat and cook the mixture (roux) for a while. The flavouring was about half a small can of Unico brand tomato paste. And then she’d add water and cook it up until it got nice and thick.

A bit of salt, and, at the end … well, each of us would add some of that tomato sauce or gravy to a soup bowl and dip in chunks of Italian bread and a few strips of bacon for a simple but filling brunch washed down with a cup of hot coffee.

Since she never measured anything, sometimes there’d end up being a lot of smooth, tangy and tasty tomato gravy. And sometimes, it would be lumpy and the flavour would be just slightly flat. Still, I never remember there being any leftovers.

Weekend Brunch – I didn’t have any bacon to fry up but I boiled up a smoked picnic shoulder ham and sliced off some of the uneven pieces and served it with tomato gravy and slices of home made French baguette to dip into it.

Over the years, I’ve learned to make different kinds of gravy. Turkey, breakfast sausage, pork chop pan gravy and buttermilk gravy. Sometimes the flavour is just slightly flat, sometimes it’s not as smooth as I’d like especially if I’m in a hurry or distracted with other things.

Recently, I ran across a treasure in the freezer. A container of duck drippings and fat. I thawed it, lifted off the layer of hard duck fat on top, and guess-timated how much flour I’d need to add for my roux. I ended up with about a cup of duck juices, jellied and dark and flavourful. A bit of chicken stock to extend the contents and this was the result. A delicious bowl of duck gravy.

Basic Gravy – 2 tbsp oil/butter/fat, 2 tbsp flour and 2 cups of liquid/drippings and meat juices. It’s just that simple.

Tomato Gravy – 1 tbsp bacon fat, 1 tbsp flour, 1 tbsp tomato paste, 1 cup tomato juice, additional water as needed, salt and pepper to taste.

Buttermilk Marinated Fried Chicken and Gravy

Fried chicken … just thinking about it makes me happy and sad at the same time.

I’d never made actual fried chicken, in my life, but I decided to finally make the attempt with two weeks left of my summer vacation. Perhaps it was because I had buttermilk in the fridge, that I wanted to use up, and four plump drumsticks in the freezer. In any case, something just clicked.

Drumsticks marinated overnight in buttermilk, salt, pepper, ground sage, dried rosemary and parsley and then dipped into a mixture of flour, salt, pepper and a bit of cayenne pepper.

To make a long story short … it was messy as I suspected it would be. The results were tasty … hot or cold. Nibbling on a cold drumstick at 10 pm was a guilty pleasure.

And, I’mĀ  never frying chicken again.

As to the buttermilk gravy … again, there were issues. By itself, the buttermilk made the gravy too tangy for my taste. About 1/2 cup of buttermilk to 1 cup of regular milk is pretty good though.