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Good Gravy!

Leeks and mushrooms make an excellent potato topping

November 23, 2010
By Wendy Monro

I don't know about you; but, I am so excited about Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday of the year. We get to spend the day thinking about everything we are grateful for this year. We watch football.

Some families get outside and play a little football (not mine). My family eats appetizers whilst sipping champagne. Then, we feast on turkey, ham, sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing, and gravy. This is all accompanied by many bottles of wine.

Afterwards, as if that wasn't enough, apple pie, pumpkin pie, and cheesecake are consumed. We might drink coffee; but most likely will be drinking an aperitif. I do admit that eating all of this is nice; however, my favorite part of it all is in the planning, preparation, and cooking.

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Simmering mushroom and leek gravy.

Last year, I hosted Thanksgiving at my house in Hanska. Our oven had been acting up for quite a while, years actually. Whenever we needed to use it, Claud would work at it, doing lord knows what to it, and we always managed to get it working . On Thanksgiving morning, the oven completely died. My mom was concerned. She was almost as concerned as she was a few years prior to this when I had Thanksgiving at my house in Hanska for the first time. We woke up on Thanksgiving morning having drunk all of the bottles of wine the previous night. She said, "Let's go pick up some wine for tonight." We headed out to the liquor store only to discover that no one sells alcohol on Thanksgiving Day.

"But, it's not a Sunday," I pleaded to anyone who would listen. We couldn't imagine Thanksgiving dinner without a glass of wine. Thankfully, we were able to come across some bottles thanks to Beth, a good friend who that day elevated herself to great friend status. A little perseverance really paid off.

Anyway, last year, there we were with all of our raw food and no oven. I told my mom we were prepared for this scenario. We had a perfectly good barbecue out on our deck. It had a thermostat just like an oven. I didn't see why the turkey couldn't bake right there on the grill. This is exactly what we did and everything that couldn't cook on the grill cooked on the stove. It was all delicious. I kind of like having to learn how to prepare things in different ways. So, it was fun for me. I think it was a bit stressful for my mom. After the year of almost having no wine and then a year with no oven, I think she is pleased to be having Thanksgiving at her place this year.

Fact Box

Mushroom and Leek Gravy

1 tablespoon olive oil

2 leeks, sliced

1 clove garlic, chopped

5 mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon pepper

1/2 bottle of beer

4 cups chicken stock

1 tablespoon fresh thyme

2 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon flour

Heat the olive oil on medium high in a saut pan or skillet. Add the leeks, garlic and mushrooms. Saut for ten minutes. Add salt and pepper. Saut for another five minutes. Pour in the beer and scrape the seasonings from the bottom of the pan. Add in the stock and the thyme. Mix in and let this simmer for five minutes. Mix together the melted butter and flour in a small bowl. Whisk this into the gravy. It will thicken immediately. Turn off the heat and ladle over mashed potatoes and pork. Or, if you have leftover turkey, ladle it over mashed potatoes and turkey.

Let me tell you how my mom does it. She is already well into her preparation three weeks prior to the big day. She digs out her collection of Gourmet magazines which are bound into big leather binders. She finds her hand written notes and recipes which have been stored in a file. Everything is stained with different foods. She picks her favorite things and then looks at new stuff on the internet to mix in with the classics. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, she starts her shopping for anything frozen, dried, bottled or canned. One week prior, and begins cooking. Yes, she starts cooking one week before. I cook the day before and the morning of. My mom likes to be prepared. She would never wake up to a house with no wine.

Two days prior and the day before, her house smells heavenly. Her two ovens are working overtime; her six burner stove top is completely covered with pots with simmering delights. Her fridge is already packed with what she has been cooking all week long. I cannot wait. It's all I am thinking about.

All that I have been cooking at home lately has been inspired by Thanksgiving ideas. I've been cooking roasts, squashes, potatoes, spiced carrots, and gravy. I love gravy and believe the meal wouldn't be nearly as delicious without gravy. I'm not a huge fan of turkey and if it weren't for the gravy, I probably wouldn't eat it. Turkey tastes bland and dry to me; but, top it with gravy and it becomes delicious.

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I made this gravy the other night for dinner and thought, this would be fantastic to make and use on leftover turkey. You could even make it as your gravy for Thanksgiving; but, I think some traditionalists might be disappointed not to have regular gravy. Sometimes on a holiday this deep rooted in tradition, you don't want to mess with the classics. I do think for leftovers, this would taste fantastic on turkey. Here, I pour it over mashed potatoes and thinly sliced pork tenderloin.

Happy Thanksgiving! I hope you are able to spend it with those you love and that you reminisce on the blessings you received this year.



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