It's that time of year again! That is, cranberry sauce and gravy time. They both serve opposite purposes on the plate, but I can't imagine a slice of roasted turkey without both of these butting up against it. To help you mix it up a little this year, I have these two recipes for you: Red Ale Cranberry Sauce and Classic Gravy. Flemish red ale, a type of sour beer, lends the cranberry sauce some depth and tartness but if you can't hunt it down, no worries, wine plus some balsamic vinegar does the trick. The gravy is made from drippings with a little thyme and brandy for extra flavor. Both can be made ahead of time and are simple, so you'll have no trouble looking super fancy when you bring these to the table this year. Enjoy!
||The secret to my cranberry sauce is a delicious Flemish red ale, and Duchesse De Bourgogne is my favorite. With aromas of raisins and balsamic vinegar, the flavor is bright and tart, but with earthy, tawny undertones. Duchesse de Bourgogne, $20,
1 cup Flemish red ale or red wine plus a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
2/3 cup sugar
1 12-ounce bag fresh or frozen cranberries
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated orange zest
(makes two cups)
1. Bring ale (or wine and balsamic vinegar) and sugar to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved.
2. Add cranberries and simmer, stirring every now and then, until berries just pop, 10 to 12 minutes.
3. Stir in zest, then cool.
Tip: Be careful not to overcook, you'll end up with a cranberry jam rather than sauce.
(makes four cups)
1/4 cup drippings (the fat and juices from what you've roasted)
2 ounces unsalted butter, melted (or as much as needed)
1/2 cup flour
2 tablespoons brandy (optional)
1 quart hot stock (whatever meat you're pairing it with)
salt and pepper to taste
||for the drippings if making gravy ahead of time:
2 turkey wings (or 4 chicken wings)
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
salt and pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
1. To make the drippings if you're not already roasting a turkey or chicken, preheat the oven to 450F. Rub the turkey wings with oil, salt and pepper lightly, sprinkle with thyme, and put in a roasting pan or Dutch oven. Roast for 50-60 minutes, flipping once, until the wings are cooked through and a dark golden brown.
2. Pour pan juices through a fine-mesh sieve into a glass or fat separator (do not clean roasting pan), then skim off fat and reserve. If there is less than 1/2 cup reserved fat, add melted butter to the fat.
3. Add enough stock to the pan juices to total four cups liquid (1 quart), place the roasting pan or a Dutch oven on a burner over high heat.
4. Add about a cup of stock and the brandy (if using), and deglaze pan by boiling, stirring and scraping up brown bits, about a minute.
5. Pour the liquid and brown bits from the roasting pan through fine-mesh sieve into a measuring cup (or bowl) with stock.
6. Whisk together reserved fat and flour in a 2-quart heavy saucepan over medium low heat, whisking for five minutes. This is your roux, what the liquid will cling to to create a rich sauce.
7. Add hot stock with pan juices in a stream, whisking constantly to prevent lumps, then bring to a boil, continuing to whisk.
8. Simmer gravy until it has reached your desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper. Pour into a pourer to serve, or cool to room temperature and freeze for later use.
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Photographs: Claire Thomas