Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Vegan Thanksgiving, Part VIII: Porcini Mushroom Gravy

For a long time, I was very intimidated by gravy. The whole concept of a roux, and the constant threat of lumps made me an anxious gravy-maker. Apparently my aunt feels the same way, because she always puts my mom in charge of the gravy at Thanksgiving. But, the other day, I was making gravy, all by myself, and it totally worked. And it tasted delicious! It had the right color, texture, consistency, everything. I was pretty proud of myself.

So, now that gravy has been demystified for me, I feel confident sharing this recipe with my readers. The key to a great gravy is a super flavorful broth. Because vegetable broth is, in its essence, a lightly flavored broth, I suggest a porcini mushroom broth. The mushrooms are capable of real depth and developing flavor. Pairing the mushroom stock with a good red wine yields a meaty and rich gravy perfect for mashed potatoes, and anything else that calls out for gravy!

Porcini Mushroom Stock

1 ounce dried porcini mushrooms
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup madeira wine
2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
1 teaspoon salt

Combine all the ingredients in a large pot. Add 8 cups warm water and stir. Bring to a boil, and simmer, covered, for 2 hours. Strain the stock thoroughly. Refrigerate for up to four days, or freeze for a later date.

Mushroom Gravy

1 3/4 cups mushroom stock
1/4 cup water
1 cup red wine*
3 tablespoons  non-dairy butter
3 1/2 tablespoons all purpose flour

Combine the stock, wine, and water in a small saucepan. In another pot, melt the butter. Add the flour and whisk constantly over heat for 2 minutes. Add the stock gradually to the roux, stirring constantly to prevent lumps. Once all the stock has been added, stir until the gravy thickens, about 10 minutes. If your gravy is not thickening, make another roux out of 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 tablespoon butter in a separate sauté pan. Add the roux to your gravy mixture, and stir until thickened. Serve immediately!

*I like my gravy with a discernible wine flavor. If you want something with more mushroom flavor, you can change the proportion; the amount of wine and amount of stock should total 2 3/4 cups.

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