Yesterday at the Super Duper Market, I saw an enormous, tomato juice sized can of “turkey gravy” made by the Campbell’s soup company. Well! I called my husband over and pointed out this travesty of cuisine and all he said was “uh-huh”. And that’s when I knew, after 38 years of marriage, that his mother probably bought canned gravy for the holidays. She was no cook, but that’s neither good nor bad, it just is. Not to embarrass him further, I quickly changed the subject by pointing out the variety of pretty apples and mentioned apple pie :D
I left my pressure cooker in France because good cooking equipment is more expensive and harder to find in France than in the U.S., so I bought another one just like it for the house here. While heating up the pressure cooker, I noticed that the pressure button was not rising. I’m a fraidy cat when it comes to pressure cookers, so I called my husband to see what he thought.
He: Tap it with a knife
Me: I’m afraid to tap it with a knife
He: I’ll tap it.
He tapped it and the button rose immediately, the hat on the steam spout began to rock gently and normal cooking began. While waiting around, I looked at the Q&A section of the pressure cooker guide and was so surprised!
Me: Hey, the guide book says if the pressure button doesn’t rise, tap it with a knife!
He: I wrote that book.
Making gravy, or roux as it’s called by sophisticated Lou-ezee-ana Creole people, is so easy but like white or hollandaise sauces, the preparation has been practically deified by egotistical, I-love-myself chefs, scaring the “bejesus” out of most common, everyday cooks. Not you Jamie. To make one cup of gravy you’ll need 1 tbsp of fat(preferably left over from some meat you browned), 1 tbsp flour and 1 cup of water or broth or even milk. Heat the fat, add the flour, then cook and stir/whisk over low heat until the flour is browned to your liking. Continuing to stir/whisk, slowly add your liquid until you have a smooth, well blended sauce. At this point you’ll want to add salt and pepper, bring it to a boil, reduce to simmer and cook, stirring occasionally, until the gravy has thickened. Normal gravy takes about 10-15 minutes to cook. I don’t know about a roux, I think it takes days :D
Unpacking and sorting continues. My husband rented a dumpster for a couple of weeks to fill with packing materials and the sometimes bizarre objects we have accumulated over the decades. Today, through no fault of our own, he had to throw Jesus in the dumpster. When we bought the house we inherited a peeling, deteriorating, plaster, garden statue of Jesus. In its condition, it was neither spiritual nor inspiring, just ugly. A good Roman Catholic, he did feel a little bad. I hope the oxtails helped.
Oxtails with Gravy
4 lbs oxtails
Salt and pepper
3 tbsp olive oil
2 onions, sliced
2-3 large garlic cloves, slivered
Numerous thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
3 tbsp flour
2 cans beef broth
Season the oxtails with salt and pepper, then brown in a skillet in the olive oil on every side. Remove the oxtails and place in a pressure cooker. Place the onions, garlic, thyme and bay leaves on top.
In the same skillet, brown the flour, then add the beef broth to make a gravy. Bring to a boil, simmer for about 3 minutes, then season with salt and pepper to taste. Pour over the oxtails, then pressure cook for 45 minutes.
Serve with rice or orzo or noodles.