Sunday, March 14, 2010
When my mother died and we planned her funeral, my brother Ken was elected to do a eulogy because the rest of us would have cried. He said, in his remembrance, that she was famous amongst her friends and acquaintances for her turkey gravy! We,her family, didn't know that! Sure, we knew her turkey gravy was good as we had eaten it many times, but we did not know that her fame had known few bounds. Ken said she was also somewhat less famous, but not much less, for her small soft buns and lemon curd tarts. When I married the pianist years ago, she made gravy like her mother did. The pianist's mother was a careful cook who followed a recipe exactly and was vigilant to avoid ingredients that could lead to obesity or heart disease. She was well ahead of her time. Her turkey gravy method was, to spoon off virtually all of the fat, and add premixed flour and water to the turkey brownings. Then she boiled the gravy vigorously while stirring, adding her vegetable water and seasoning as required. My mother, never to my knowledge, followed a recipe, at least as I remember. Her construction of turkey gravy consisted of adding the dry flour to the brownings and drippings without removing the fat. She would stir and scrape the molten mass into a brown, boggy, glob, whereupon she added nonvegetable water,stirred more vigorously, boiling to reduce. She only seasoned with pepper and salt. Of course, the gravy flavour arose not only from the turkey, but from the dressing as well. The pianist is now famous for her turkey, and has adopted the excellence of both of her mentors. She gets rid of much of the fat but adds the dry flour directly. The best of both worlds. But, more importantly, she indignantly decries the amount of water in the turkeys these days due to the processing methods. This requires extraordinary culinary efforts on her part to produce the same sublime result.