A Season of Miracles

DSC05878Eight nights of light with oil for only one, a birth that changed the world, a jolly 5’x5′ man fitting down a 2’x2′ chimney. This time of the year is thick with miracles.

I happen to believe in miracles. No, really. Feh you say? It’s not possible that an occasionally jaded ex-city gal who doles out recipes with an extra helping of snark could possibly believe in events that could only be taken on faith? Yup, I do. Of course, you and I might have different definitions on what defines miraculous.

My view of magical happenstance is fairly modest. Messianic messages, angelic interference, or deity drama are all well and good, but in my mind, if the cake rises, the mayonnaise doesn’t break, and the rough puff puffs, HALLELUJAH! No matter how much I do it, I’m still impressed when the good stuff that goes in the pan comes out better. Despite cooking and baking since my hands could reach the counter, coming up with something, especially something out of nothing (or practically so) is a freakin miracle to my brain.

Pulling off the culinary miracle has definitely become easier in the digital, internet, every thought posted world. Pick your favorite search engine, enter in a few key words, and POOF! A ridiculous number of potential miracles. But my favorite culinary prestidigitation is still the least high tech, the most basic. Pan gravy. Seriously. Some chefs use the omelet scale to determine kitchen skill, but I use gravy. Gravy by definition IS pure magic. Take what many would consider the schmutz to be scrubbed from the bottom of a pan, add liquid of choice, reduce a bit, add in something luscious at the end, and you’ve pretty much got it. A miracle from schmutz, booze, broth and fat.

With the concurrent holidays of Hanukkah and Christmas upon us, it’s pretty much gravy season. So here’s a miracle in a pan to sauce your roast, latkes, or eat right from the skillet with a good baguette (I don’t judge) – Whiskey Cream Gravy.

2014-12-21 15.28.40

I actually started this gravy with sautéed cremini mushrooms. That’s what made the schmutz in the pan, since I was serving it over a sliced grilled sirloin. If you have a roast that you’ve browned off first in the pan, or a steak that you’ve seared, even better.

Whiskey Cream Gravy

  • 1/2 lb cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 TBSP butter
  • 1 TBSP olive oil
  • 1 large or two small shallots, chopped
  • 1 cup low sodium beef broth
  • 3 TBSP bourbon
  • 2-3 TBSP heavy cream
  • 1 TBSP butter
  • Salt and pepper to taste

2014-12-21 12.59.21Melt the butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the mushrooms and shallots, a pinch of salt and 1/2 pinch pepper (about 1/4 tsp salt, 1/8 tsp pepper). Saute over medium heat until the mushrooms have given up all their liquid and are starting to brown. When the mushrooms are dry, remove from heat and add the bourbon, scraping up any bits on the pan. Return to heat, add the broth and bring to a boil. Continue boiling until the liquid has reduced by about 1/3rd. Add cream and stir until incorporated. Taste and adjust for salt and pepper. Just before serving, add butter and stir until melted. Serve over sliced steak, prime rib, or the best baked potato you’ve had in a while!

If you like what you read here, please help me spread the word. Meantime, I’d love you to join me on Facebook (please click the ‘like’ button), and check out what else is going on in my kitchen at cookinginmyheels.com. Thanks!  🙂

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