October 10, 2014

Hasty Peppery Mushroom Gravy (Gluten-Free)

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This is the gluten-free version of my pleasantly pungent and plentiful Hasty Peppery Mushroom Gravy. It is thickened with cornstarch instead of flour, so it is more delicate and prone to thinning. On the plus side, it can be prepared in advance. Need an all-purpose gravy guide? Hop on My Gravy Train.

4 cups (1 L) cold, low-sodium chicken stock, divided
4 to 6 tbsp (60 to 90 mL) cornstarch, to taste
1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
8 oz (250 g) mixed mushrooms, sliced (3-1/2 cups/825 mL)
1 tsp (5 mL) or more kosher salt
1 tbsp (15 mL) gluten-free soy sauce or worcestershire sauce
1/4 tsp (1 mL) ground white pepper
Browning to taste

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 medium pan, melt 1 tbsp (15 mL) butter on medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes, or until liquid released by mushrooms evaporates, and mushrooms sizzle and squeak. Transfer to medium bowl. Reserve pan.

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

In reserved pan, melt remaining 3 tbsp (45 mL) butter on medium heat. Give cornstarch mixture a big stir and whisk it in carefully (mixture will sputter). While stirring, gradually add warm stock. Whisk in soy sauce or worcestershire, 1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt and pepper. Add mushrooms (with juices). When mixture comes to full boil, cook, stirring often, 1 minute, or until thickened and glossy.

Remove from heat. Add some or all of remaining 1/4 cup (125 mL) stock 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, it’s 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, stirring occasionally, until bubbly. Note that cornstarch-based sauces start to become weepy and thin as they sit. If the gravy is too thin, simmer 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.