October 10, 2014

Hasty Mushroom & Port Gravy (Gluten-Free)

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There’s no skimping when you prepare this hearty, gluten-free gravy for roast beast. It’s
a variation on my Hasty Gravy, thickened with cornstarch instead of flour and can be cooked in advance. Need an all-purpose gravy guide? Hop on My Gravy Train.

1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
8 oz (125 g) button or cremini mushrooms, sliced (3-1/2 cups/875 mL)
1 tsp (1 mL) or more kosher salt
3-1/2 cups (375 mL) cold, low-sodium beef stock
1/2 cup (125 mL) cornstarch
1/2 cup (75 mL) dry port
1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
1 tsp (5 mL) thyme leaves
1/4 tsp (1 mL) freshly ground black pepper
Browning to taste

In medium pan, heat oil on medium until shimmery. Add shallot. Cook, stirring often, 1 minute, or until softened. Add mushrooms and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt. Cook, stirring often, 2 minutes, or until liquid is released and evaporates, and mushrooms sound squeaky and start to turn golden. Scrape into small bowl. Reserve pan.

In medium measuring cup, stir together 1/2 cup (125 mL) stock and cornstarch until smooth. (Use 4 tbsp/60 mL cornstarch for thin gravy or 6 tbsp/90 mL for thick gravy.)

In large measuring cup, microwave 3-1/4 cups (800 mL) stock and port 2 minutes, or until steamy.

In reserved pan, melt butter on medium heat. Give cornstarch mixture a big stir and whisk it in carefully (mixture will sputter). Remove from heat. Gradually add warm stock mixture, stirring until smooth after each addition. Add thyme, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt and pepper. Add mushroom mixture (with juices). Heat, stirring often, on medium 2 minutes, or until starting to simmer and thicken. Reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, stirring often and then constantly, 10 minutes, or until thick and glossy.

Remove from heat. Add some or all of remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) stock mixture to adjust thickness. (Gravy will thicken more as it cools.) Adjust salt. Add browning.

Makes 4 cups (1 L).

Kitchen Secrets: To prevent lumps, the stock mixed with the cornstarch must be cold. Also, its important to add stock gradually. However, do not whisk cornstarch-based sauces vigorously or the starchy bonds will break down.

Bright Ideas: For the smoothest, richest, most decadent gravy, add heavy cream (35%) in place of some of the remaining 1/4 cup (60 mL) stock.

Tool Time: I use a ball whisk to make mushroom sauces and gravies. It has open prongs, each one topped with a little ball. The mushrooms won’t get stuck in it.

Oh No: Never cover the pan to keep your gravy warm. It will thin out if steam attacks it.

Make-Ahead: You can prepare this gravy a day in advance. Refrigerate it, and when the time comes, reheat in a small pan on medium-low heat, whisking occasionally, until bubbly. Note that cornstarch-based sauces start to become weepy and thin the longer they sit. If the gravy is too thin, simmering it with a bit more cornstarch slurry.

B is for Browning: Sugar so darkly caramelized that it has lost its sweetness is sold as browning. It is used as a food colouring in everything from gravy to cake. Supermarkets sell browning.