Saturday, November 8, 2008

Is a Stress-Free Thanksgiving Possible?

By Kate Collins

For those who prepare Thanksgiving, or any major holiday, dinner, you know the stress level can be high. If you don't, I'd love to know how you avoid it -- or what you're drinking.....

Here's what I do to make the day easier, yet I still end up in the kitchen from early morning until I fall into bed at night.

1. Everyone brings a side dish and dessert.
2. I make the gravy a day ahead (see below).
3. My husband sets the tables.
4. My daughters peel and slice the potatoes.
5. I prepare the sweet potato casserole the day before, so it only has to be baked.

Why, then, does it still take so freaking much time? I wish I could relax and enjoy the company, but there always seems to be something else that needs doing.

Anyone have any tips? Please? I'll even share my gravy recipe with you. Be advised: If you serve it along with traditional gravy, people will quickly gravitate to this one. It's THAT good.

Enjoy!

Kate

ALL PURPOSE GRAVY

Prep time: 10 minutes; Total time: 55 minutes (includes 20 min simmer)
Serve with any type of meat or over mashed potatoes or rice.
Makes 2 cups. To double: use larger skillet or Dutch Oven and increase cooking time by 50%. Whisk constantly when adding broths. Browning veggies and flour gives gravy its color.

3 tbls unsalted butter 1 carrot, peeled and chopped fine 1 rib celery, chopped fine
1 onion, minced 1/4 cup flour 2 cups low salt chicken broth 1 bay leaf
2 cups low salt beef broth 1/4 tsp thyme 5 whole black peppercorns

1. Melt butter in large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add veggies, cook until soft and well-browned, about 9 minutes. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly browned, about 5 minutes.
2. Gradually whisk in broths; bring to a boil. Add bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened, 20-25 minutes, skimming off any foam that forms on surface.
3. Pour gravy through a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth into clean saucepan, pressing on the solids to extract liquid. Discard solids, or save the solids for another meal, stir them back into sauce, and pour over rice or potatoes.
(Can be refrigerated in airtight container up to 4 days, or frozen. Reheat over low heat, whisking to recombine, or microwave 1-3 minutes, stirring until smooth.)
From Jean Anderson's "The American Century Cookbook: The Most Popular Recipes of the 20th
Century." (Source: Chicago Tribune, Nov 20, 2006)