It’s such a shame that the art of gravy making has been lost. This gravy is rather posh, containing things like veal and vermouth. You don’t need to add these sorts of things every time you make it, but even basic gravy is so much more delicious than any from a packet. I know it takes more planning and time, but it’s not that difficult really – mainly a bit of simming. I haven’t used gravy granules for a good couple of years now…
I’ve been meaning to do this recipe for ages – but finding chickens with giblets these days is difficult in Britain. The reason being, apparently, that people would keep forgetting to remove the giblets in their little plastic bag from the carcass before roasting it. Idiots ruining things for the rest of us, as per usual! It is also difficult finding veal in Britain too. In America however, it is pretty common. However both chickens with giblets and veal are everywhere. So I invited my friend Danny round for a roast dinner – the first I’ve made since the move over here. I don’t know why I put it off, the heat I suppose. Roast chicken and stuffing (see the next post, when I write it!) with Yorkshire puddings (my recipe here, Grigger’s here) and mashed potatoes are as manna from the Gods as far as I’m concerned. Danny had never had Yorkshire pudding before. What is that about!?
To make the gravy you’ll need a set of turkey giblets or two sets of chicken giblets – Grigson says to not include the liver, but my Mum always used it for hers and it’s good gravy that she makes! – two quartered carrots, one halved onion, either a quarter of a pint of dry white wine or 90 mls of dry white vermouth (I went with the former), a bouquet garni (see here for a post on what should go in a bouquet garni), and eight ounces of casserole veal that has been cut into pieces. Put all these ingredients into a saucepan over a high heat. When the alcohol has boiled up and the giblets and veal has changed colour, add two tomatoes that have been halved plus enough water to just cover things. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for two hours. Strain the stock.
In another pan, melt and ounce and-a-half of butter and let it cook until it turns a golden brown – a noisette brown as it is called in the trade, a good name because it does change its aroma as well as its colour and a definite nutty smell emanates. This change happens quite quickly so don’t take your eye off it. Now stir in a level tablespoon of plain flour (you can add more if you like a thick, thick gravy). Pour over the hot stock and allow to simmer covered quietly for a further half an hour. Check the seasoning.
If you are making a chicken gravy, add the juices from the roasting pan (as I did). For turkey, pour the fat away and add a glass of Madeira wine to it. Boil it up and serve it separately from the giblet gravy.
Check out that layer of butter settling out there!
I can’t believe I had no gravy boat; how embarrassing.
#276 Giblet Gravy. This was a long time coming, and it was certainly worth the wait. Rich and satisfying with a good herby flavor from the thyme I added. The best gravy I have ever made that for sure – and definitely the most indulgent. The veal, by the way, didn’t go to waste, I fished them out and serve the chunks with the meal. Waste not, want not! Anyways, an excellent recipe – 9/10.
The Roast Pheasant was obviously the star of the meal – not just because it is a meat we don’t eat enough of, but also from my point of view because to tick it off I had to do lots of accompanying dishes, so some organisation was required. If you want to have a go, you can have as many of the elements as you wish, though try to do as many as possible as they do go so very well together as a dish. The trickiest part was getting hold of pheasant giblets – however, the nice game butcher at the Farmers’ Market got me them when I asked. Make a point of ordering them as they are routinely thrown away. So, the roast pheasant is made up of five individual parts:
1. The pheasants themselves
2. The game chips
3. The giblet gravy
4. The browned crumbs
5. The bread sauce (dealt with separately as #123).
Most of this can be made in advance and reheated, that which is not, is easy and quick to prepare and will not keep you from your guests for very long.
To prepare the brace of pheasants, begin by removing the giblets and setting them aside for later on. Stuff each bird with 2 ounces of butter, plus the liver (make sure you remove the green bitter gall bladder) and a good seasoning with salt and pepper, then lay a thin sheet of back pork fat over them that is large enough to cover the beasts and legs. Secure the back fat by tying string around the pheasants. Place them in a roasting tin and set aside for when you want to roast them – they should be roasted at 190°C for 20 minutes per pound plus an extra 10 minutes. You calculate this for the heaviest bird; in my case 2 pounds, so 50 minutes in all. For the final 10 minutes of cooking, remove the back fat and dust the breasts lightly with seasoned flour. Remove from the oven and allow to rest. I did this just before the guests arrived so that the birds could rest as the leek tarts were cooking. To serve it, I removed the legs, then sliced the breast meat and placed on a bed of watercress.
When the birds were prepared, I started on the gravy: first place the giblets (minus livers) in a saucepan along with a sliced carrot, a sliced onion and a bouquet garni and enough light beef stock to cover everything generously. This was simmered gently for two hours before being finished off later (see below). Next job was to get the game chips sorted. Game chips are basically crisps cut very thinly on a Chinese mandolin using the ridged blade to produce a lattice, or gaufrette, pattern. Peel 1 ½ pounds of firm potatoes. Put the mandolin at its thinnest setting and slice downwards, turning the potato a quarter-turn as you bring it back up to make the next slice to get the lattice effect. Put the chips into a large bowl of water to remove starch and then dry thoroughly. Deep fry in batches at 200°C until golden brown, and drain on kitchen paper and salt them well. This can be re-heated in the oven whenever you need to use them.
Once the starters had been eaten, I put the game chips in the oven and got to work on the buttered crumbs and rest of the giblet gravy. For the crumbs, 3 ounces of stale white breadcrumbs were fried gently for 5 or 10 minutes in 1 ½ ounces of butter until golden. They were placed in a serving dish and kept warm with the game chips. For the gravy, the stock with all the lovely the giblet flavours poured into the roasting tin. The stock was boiled hard and all the nice sticky bits that were found on the bottom of the pan were scraped off. When reduced, a glass of port was added, there was a quick seasoning, and the gravy was strained into a sauce boat.
So that there was a bit of green, also served some peas and green peas, but also Bread Sauce (as instructed) and (#124) Creamed Celery – Grigson says that either celery or mushrooms should be eaten with roast pheasant.
#122 Roast Pheasant – 9.5/10. What a brilliant meal! It was well worth the effort, I cannot fault it in any way really, and will definitely make it again, though maybe not with all the required elements. The pheasant was juicy and just-cooked, the gravy was beautifully rich and luscious, the breadcrumbs provided a nice crunchy texture and the game chips were tasty, some crunchy and some soggy in the gravy and bread sauce. For me, pheasant is the king of the game birds, and after this, it is going to be very difficult to knock it off the top spot.
FYI: to be a bit thrifty, I made soup from the carcasses and left over veg and trimmed celery etc and it was lovely – I’ll put a recipe up for it. I am never chucking out a carcass again!