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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Poultry Gravy and Waffles

I despaired of ever being able to photograph this delicious dish without it looking like... well, something unappetizing on a waffle. I think I took somewhere near sixty photos over two days in four different sessions. I tried different thicknesses of gravy, different lighting, different plates, different orientation of waffles. And you know what? I think this photo turned out okay! Sometimes, it's darn hard to show off a dish the way it deserves, and this dish deserves some hoopla.

Both sides of my family come from Pennsylvania Dutch country, so it's no surprise that I'm all about waffles and gravy. It amazes me how many folks turn up their nose at the mere thought, but they just don't know what they're missing!! It's reminiscent of biscuits and gravy, but so much better. Of course, I would take a waffle over a biscuit any day. (By the way, make sure you are using a waffle recipe that does not have added sugar... this is a savory application and sugar would be weird). While you can make this with chicken or turkey, since I grew up with it usually being turkey (I think my mom only thought about making it in the midst of Thanksgiving excess), that's what I prefer.

And wouldn't you know that the other day I found a pack of turkey thighs at the grocery! Who knew they sold such a thing!?! Turkey's not just for Thanksgiving anymore! And it was darn reasonably priced, too. I paid less than $2.00 a pound. Can't complain about that!

Before you get started with the actual cooking, it's good to have the veggies ready. I used a standard combination of onion, carrot, celery, and garlic, just like I would use to make chicken broth.

In a large Dutch oven or stock pot, add a small drizzle of oil to get things going. Heat the pan over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the meat, skin side down and let sizzle until most of the fat is rendered and the meat in nicely golden. Flip the meat as necessary to brown all sides. Drain off the fat and set aside for later.

Add the water, vegetables, and herbs and cook uncovered for about an hour or until the turkey is well cooked and falling off the bones.

Remove the broth from the heat and remove the meat and let cool until it can be handled without burning the bejeepers out of yourself. Discard the skin and bones and pull the meat into bite sized pieces.

Strain and reserve the broth. Skim any excess fat, if necessary. Hopefully, you'll have somewhere around four cups of liquid. If you have too much, let it simmer and reduce until it's about right. If you don't have enough, add water to make four cups. In the now empty pan, add 3-4 TBS of the reserved fat and the flour. Mix thoroughly and then slowly add the broth, whisking constantly over medium heat. Continue whisking until the mixture has thickened. Remove from the heat and add the shredded meat. Add salt to taste. Oh, and don't forget to make the waffles!!

Poultry Gravy and Waffles
Yield: 6 entree servings

For the broth:

1-2 tsp vegetable oil
2 turkey thighs or 2 lbs chicken thighs
6 cups water
1 medium onion, quartered
2 celery stalks, chopped
5-6 small/baby cut carrots
2 garlic cloves
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

For the gravy:

4 cups of broth
3-4 TBS reserved fat
4 TBS flour
reserved meat
salt to taste

Heat a large Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Add the oil. When the oil is heated and shimmering, add the meat, skin side down. Brown the meat and render out the fat, turning as necessary. Drain the fat and reserve.

Add the water and remaining broth ingredients. Simmer uncovered for one hour, or until the meat is well cooked and falling off the bones. Remove the meat to let cool and strain and reserve the liquid (skim any fat, if necessary). You want close to 4 cups of liquid. If there is too much, you can simmer it down; if there is not enough, add water to make 4 cups. When the meat is cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones and shred the meat into bite sized pieces. Set aside.

In the now empty pan, over medium heat, add 3-4 TBS of the reserved fat. Stir in the flour and mix thoroughly. Slowly add the broth, whisking constantly. Continue to cook and whisk until the mixture comes just to a boil and thickens. Remove from the heat. Add the reserved meat and stir. Add salt to taste. Gravy can be made in advance and reheated or used immediately. Serve over waffles (savory waffles - be sure to use a waffle recipe that does not include added sugar). Serve immediately after pouring over waffles.

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