October 10, 2014

Hasty Mushroom & Port Gravy

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Whip up this robust gravy to complement beef. You can make the gravy from scratch or use the drippings and juices from roast beef to make pan gravy (see below). The recipe evolved from my basic Hasty Gravy, which is plentiful and can be prepared in advance. Want it gluten-free? Try: Hasty Mushroom & Port Gravy (Gluten-Free). Need an all-purpose gravy guide? Hop on My Gravy Train.

       Gravy packed with mushrooms. Credit: Susan Sampson


1 tbsp (15 mL) extra virgin olive oil
1 shallot, finely chopped
8 oz (250 g) cremini mushrooms, sliced (3-1/2 cups/875 mL)
1 tsp (1 mL) or more kosher salt
3-1/2 cups (375 mL) low-sodium beef stock
1/2 cup (75 mL) dry port
1/4 cup (60 mL) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (125 mL) all-purpose flour (2-1/4 oz/65 g)
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 large measuring cup, microwave stock and port 2 minutes, or until steamy.

In reserved pan, melt butter on medium heat. Add flour. Whisk constantly 1 minute, or until thick, pasty and slightly golden.

Remove from heat. While whisking vigorously, gradually add 3-1/2 cups (875 mL) warm stock mixture, whisking 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 1/2 cup (125 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 lumpy gravy, it’s important to add stock gradually and to whisk until smoothly combined before adding more. For thicker gravy, continue to simmer until reduced as desired.

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.

Bright Ideas: For the smoothest, richest, most decadent gravy, add heavy cream (35%) in place of some of the remaining 1/2 cup (125 mL) stock.

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 or three in advance. Refrigerate it, and when the time comes, reheat in a small pan on medium-low, whisking occasionally, until bubbly. Or microwave it, stirring every 30 seconds.

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.


Pan Mushroom & Port Gravy
Prepare this alongside roast beef. Cook mushroom mixture. Scrape drippings from roasting pan into gravy separator, separating fat from juices. Pour juices into large measuring cup. Add enough stock to equal 3-1/2 cups (750 mL). Return roasting pan to medium heat. Add port. Cook, scraping pan with whisk, 1 minute. Add stock mixture. Boil 1 to 2 minutes, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan. Pour through fine-mesh sieve back into measuring cup. Measure fat from drippings; you’ll need 1/4 cup (60 mL), so supplement with butter if necessary. Add to roasting pan. Heat on medium. Whisk in flour 1 to 2 minutes, until turning golden. While whisking constantly, gradually add stock mixture until smooth. Add mushroom mixture (with juices). When gravy comes to full boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer 3 to 5 minutes, until thickened and bubbly. Adjust salt.