Sunday Gravy with yeah right: The Art and Science of Kitchen Improvisation

laserguru

laserguru

yeah right is a lifelong Vikings fan. He is into self denial and still harbors hope. Loves to cook, read and drink. But he doesn’t plate.
laserguru

As with many things in life, you will encounter issues and the unexpected in the kitchen that you had not planned for. The skilled cook needs to be able to handle potential unexpected challenges fearlessly. As the Marines say you have to be able to “adapt and overcome.” I’ve never been a marine but I’ve encountered my fair share of fuckupery in the kitchen. This week’s meal was supposed to be a quick knock off on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner what with the turkey, some green bean casserole and some mashed potatoes and gravy. I always buy an extra turkey around Thanksgiving when they are on sale and I put it in the freezer for a mid-Winter meal somewhere after the New Year. My son-in-law always brings a smoked turkey over for Thanksgiving and it’s always fucking delicious but sometimes you want the simple roast turkey to satisfy your inner nostalgia. Plus It’s always great to come in from the outside to the smell of a roasting turkey and herbs.

There was only one issue this time; I forgot the goddamn potatoes at the grocery store. There was also no way in fuck that I’m going back to the store just to buy potatoes, my time off is valuable dammit!

Another reason to encounter adaptation is if you have some leftover provisions in the cupboard. Remember the Euro Clash post where I made the casio y pepe? That came about because I had leftover pasta in the cupboard and also had some Parmigiano-Reggiano on hand. Sometimes you don’t even have to fuck up to get creative. Cool!

The most important dish of this whole enterprise was going to be the turkey anyway so I was OK from a concept standpoint. Having forgotten the potatoes (stupid shit) did change the overall structure of the meal. As you can tell from the banner image the end result turned from turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and green bean casserole all served lovingly and familiar like on a plate together to turkey sandwiches, some homemade bastardized poutine and…fucking green bean casserole.

I’m going to show you my favorite preparation for making a roast turkey. The link to the Thanksgiving post above will give you something similar but I jazzed this one up a little

Roast turkey:

One turkey, hopefully killed, cleaned and plucked and ready to cook. You ever killed, cleaned and plucked a live turkey? My dad thought he still lived on a farm when we were growing up and he did this type of shit while we were living in military housing. He had chickens and ducks and rabbits and shit. Our neighbors must have fucking loved us. One year he brings home the live turkey, keeps it around just long enough for us to get a little attached to it, then on the day before Thanksgiving he tied it to a tree with a rope around its neck and chopped the motherfucker’s head off. Goddamn traumatizing to a ten year old kid. Then he gutted it, and threw it into a pot of boiling water to boil the feathers down to pluck. Ever smell a boiling still feathered bird? Jesus, you really don’t want to. But I digress.

One turkey (like those Butterball turkeys) mine was a 14 pounder.

1 whole bulb of garlic, peeled and minced. Yes, a whole bulb not a clove.

1 medium brown onion rough chopped

Fresh parsley, about a tablespoon chopped

1 teaspoon of ground sage

1 teaspoon of dried thyme

2 teaspoons of salt

2 teaspoons of ground black pepper

1 tablespoon of olive oil

2 tablespoons of melted butter for basting

1 of them disposable aluminum roasting pans

Make sure the turkey is completely thawed and near room temperature. Also be sure to remove the neck and the giblets from the body cavities. Heat oven to 325 degrees. In a small bowl mix together half of the minced garlic, the parsley, sage and thyme (we are only a rosemary away from a Simon and Garfunkle song) half of the salt and the pepper and then drizzle in enough olive oil to make a paste. Loosen the skin along the breast of the turkey being careful not to break the skin open. After separating the skin slightly away from the breast meat, massage this herb-garlic mixture all over the breast meat but under the skin covering the breast. Massage well and use all of the mixture. This will be our only chance to season the white meat prior to serving.

Next take the onion and the remaining garlic along with the rest of the salt and pepper and mix together. This will be going inside the body cavity of the turkey, or as I so eloquently put it just shove it right up the turkey’s ass. Place the prepared turkey into the roasting pan and put in the preheated oven. The bag covering the turkey has cooking times/temps for the various sized turkeys but I’ve found that a 14 pound bird cooks in just about 4 hours. Baste every 30-45 minutes or so. Use the melted butter on the first basting, after that there should be plenty of juices to baste the rest of the time. When the turkey is finished if you’re nervous use a meat thermometer but I test for doneness by seeing if the legs or wings move away from the rest of the turkey with ease. The main trick to this preparation is cooking the turkey with the BREAST SIDE DOWN. I’ve found this is key to keeping the breast meat moist. Here take a look. That’s the back of the turkey and not the breast.

cooked bird

This looks a little odd but I swear it produces a tasty and moist turkey. You ain’t gonna get your Better Homes and Gardens money shot of the breast up roasted turkey but I don’t give a shit. This is about the flavor. One quick note, the turkey may look a little like road kill when you turn it over to carve the breast but that’s OK because we will carve in the privacy of the kitchen instead of on the table.

Green Bean Casserole:

Fuck it we’ve already done this. Open a bunch of cans (2 green bean cans, 1 cream of mushroom can) add in some salt, pepper and about 3/4 cup of whole milk and 2/3 cup of those crunchy onion dealies and cook on 350 for about 25 minutes. Top with more onion crunchies and cook for about 5 minutes more. CHALLENGING! This should look familiar.

green bean casserole

Now lets’s do some real authentic Sunday Gravy! Not the Italian type though.

Turkey Gravy:

Turkey juices and drippings from the just cooked turkey

Chicken stock. You probably won’t need more than a cup but if you’re making more gravy use more stock.

Black pepper

1/2 teaspoon of dried thyme.

Maybe some salt to taste but wait to add the salt until the gravy thickens

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of flour.

Build a roux with the butter and flour in a pot on top of the stove. We’re trying to make a blonde roux here so it’s doesn’t have to cook too long.

Add in the drippings and the chicken stock and the pepper and thyme. Cook on a low simmer until gravy thickens to desired consistency. You should know that turkey gravy ALWAYS takes longer to cook than you think. Start the gravy around the time that you put the green bean casserole in the oven. Yes, it will take that long to cook. As mentioned above, watch your salt levels carefully and only add if needed right near then end. When you are cooking/reducing the stock the salt content starts to intensify and it’s easier to add salt at the end than it is to take it out. That’s a cooking golden rule right there. Here’s a look at that gravy.

gravy

Turkey gravy is the linchpin of a turkey dinner, it brings the whole thing together. There was no way I was going to make a roast turkey and not make a turkey gravy even if I did forget those fucking potatoes (fucking dumbass) but what to do with it? I’ve always had a soft spot for poutine even though I’ve only had it 5 or 6 times and I had never made my own so what better time than now to make my own bastardized-Americanized poutine?

Dirty little secret time: I didn’t make the fries for the poutine. After I realized where I was going with this side dish I entered the “Fuck it, I’m going to do this the lazy ass way” mode. That really is an actual mode, just ask your stoner buddies.

This may come as a little education for our East Coast, Midwest and Canadian readers but there are an overwhelming number of Hawaiian barbecue places in L.A. A shit ton of them really. We have an L&L Barbecue place across the street from us and I got the fries from there. For those who are unfamiliar with these places, they specialize in Hawaiian Plate Lunches. Here’s a chicken katsu plate lunch:

ChickenKatsuPlate

All plate lunches come with two big ol’ scoops of rice and a big scoop of macaroni salad so you ain’t gonna be hungry afterwards. I actually really like the macaroni salad.

Poutine:

Fries

Cheese – preferably cheese curds

Gravy

I didn’t have cheese curds and if I’m not driving back to the store for potatoes there’s no way in fuck I’m driving there for cheese curds. I just grated some sharp cheddar over the top of the fries and topped with the turkey gravy.

You know what?

It was fucking delicious! Seriously you should give this a try. Fuck your arteries man! Feed the inner beast in you that is crying out for more fat content. FEED IT POUTINE!

To kind of summarize and explain the general concept of the entire meal, since I knew I was making a version of poutine, it didn’t make sense to serve slices of turkey alongside it, thus the turkey sandwich. I’m a big fan of rye bread so I put some slices of turkey on some rye, added a little salt and pepper and a slice of swiss cheese. Best goddamn turkey sandwich ever. Served alongside the sandwich and the poutine was a scoop of the green bean casserole. Fuck cohesion man this shit was good. All of the elements worked and they all worked well together, as well as being stand alone delicious.

The next time you are in the kitchen and find yourself in a bind or down an ingredient or two, you need to think on your feet, adapt and overcome, think outside the box (christ I hate that expression), pull a rabbit out of your ass. Whatever you want to call it, just improvise and you may end up surprising yourself.

Just don’t improvise when you are baking, there really is a ratio to that shit.

See you next time!

laserguru
laserguru
yeah right is a lifelong Vikings fan. He is into self denial and still harbors hope. Loves to cook, read and drink. But he doesn't plate.

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blaxabbath
Member

Can you get cheese curds in a typical US grocery store?

BrettFavresColonoscopy
Member

In Wisconsin, yes. In the DC area I’ve only seen them a handful of times, at like Wegmans and I don’t remember where else.

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Member
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Doktor Zymm
Member

Besides the Gourmet Nacho and Chili bar, other highlights of firkin fest,
The guys checking their phones while standing next to a hot chick giving away free beer, and the guy who thought this was a great place to wear his Edelman jersey. There is also a guy walking around with a platter of Underberg for no discernable reason.
Anyway, more free beer time!

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly
Member

…the guy who thought this was a great place to wear his Edelman jersey…

“Wes Welker is there?”

– Wes Welker

Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Member
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Member
Moose -The End Is Well Nigh
Doktor Zymm
Member

Meanwhile, I am at Firkin Fest, featuring a Gourmet Nacho and Chili buffet. Gourmet!

BrettFavresColonoscopy
Member

Is “my first poutine” a Canadian sexual euphemism?

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly
Member

I know it’s fun to shit on TSTSNBN around here, but I just checked and five of their first thirteen article are about last night’s Saturday Night Live. Name five sites that are a better representative of the culture of what’s buzzing. You can’t!

Kungjitsu
Member
Kungjitsu

“Pull a rabbit out of your ass”.

I think that’s called hasenfeffer.

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly
Member

Pulling something white out of your ass? If you do it out of sight of the guard that’s called a Baltimore Care Package.

Doktor Zymm
Member

I love turkey. The entire rest of my family prefers chicken. Weirdly, I’m not adopted.

monty this seems strange to me
Member

Loosen the skin along the breast of the turkey being careful not to break the skin open. After separating the skin slightly away from the breast meat, massage this herb-garlic mixture all over the breast meat but under the skin covering the breast. Massage well and use all of the mixture.

You know, Sunday Gravy turned into soft-core porn so gradually I hardly noticed.

ballsofsteelandfury
Member
theeWeeBabySeamus
Member

That rump roast ain’t so bad, neither…
http://media.trb.com/media/photo/2011-11/209548140-22162638.jpg

Don T
Member

Back when my wife was pregnant, we lived in a cramped apt. downwind from a chicken processing plant. The smell was:
-25% burning feathers
-15% burning chicken fat
-60% That Smell

Rikki-Tikki-Deadly
Member

Peter King thinks that sounds like 60% of the worst living situation ever.

JerBear50
Member
JerBear50

I didn’t live by it, but had the misfortune to be in the vicinity of a Buddig lunch meat plant a few times. Luckily the taste and appearance of their “meat” had put me off of it long before the ungodly smell of the plant got a chance.

theeWeeBabySeamus
Member

Ha!!!! Weird.
I did a roasted turkey (just a breast though) last Monday. Or maybe it was Tuesday.
Hell I dunno….but one day last week.
You’re right, that’s some good smellz and good leftovers for the creative or even the not so creative.

And do I sense some malice in your heart about green bean casserole? You gotta get past that. Green bean casserole and homemade stuffing (both of which I also made last Monday or Tuesday or when the hell ever it was) are both just as vital as the turkey itself. Even did cranberry sauce because my niece insisted that she can’t eat Turkey without cranberry sauce.

It was like Thanksgiving and/or Christmas in March up in here!!!!!!!!