Tag Archives: gravy

Don’t Rue the Roux (A Homophonically Hackneyed Glorification of Gravy)

I’m a gravy animal. I like gravy on anything. In my world gravy deserves the coveted foundational spot on the food pyramid. But the pyramid I grew up with has been has been replaced with something bizarre.  I first encountered this new layout at Kroger when I saw some strange crop circle-esque food diagram.

I couldn’t decipher this new age pyramid as there is no base to build on. That’s not a proper food pyramid. I learned about nutrition from Slim Goodbody, the stalwart, creepy body suit wearing crusader. Mr. Goodbody may not be a gravy advocate, but I’m not deterred.

I’m such a gravy proponent that years ago I used to have listeners consume a thirty-two ounce glass of cream gravy when I was a disc jockey.  If you are a radio personality and need a game that is devoid of originality but will make some listeners say, “Eww,” you can steal this bit that I undoubtedly stole from some unimaginative liner jock who used it as a vehicle to giveaway blue plate lunches during his lunchtime request hour.  It’s amazing the lengths some people go to score a CD from some never was band like Zug Izland. Remember that band? Me neither.

I’m definitely no expert on sauces, but I have gained enough experience to make a half decent gel of grease and flour. Making roux for gumbo is a skill I have yet to perfect.  Gravy is easy.  At least for me, death-defying dark roux is not only challenging, but all of that stirring can be exhausting.  

I love a really dark roux, but I have had gumbo where the roux was scorched.  Needless to say, that restaurant isn’t around anymore.  When I make a roux, I always plan on making it the color of dark chocolate.  Once it looks like peanut butter I start getting nervous, and I invariably chicken out when the roux almost looks like milk chocolate.  

Justin Wilson terrifies me with this über-dark roux.  I can’t find the rest of the clip to see if the gumbo turned out.  I’m certain it was perfect, but next time I set out to make a dark roux, I’ll have to battle another bout of flop sweat or I’ll get tired and ditch the whole gumbo idea and bust open a can of biscuits and make a pan of cream gravy.

Babe’s Chicken Dinner House–Garland, TX

It has been too long since I’ve eaten at Babe’s. I was in town serving with Mercy Chefs and I wanted to treat my family to something that was truly memorable.

Naturally, I went for the fried chicken. It wasn’t heavily seasoned which made my children happy, but what it lacked in spice, it made up for it in chicken fried perfection. The skin has a delicious crunch and the meat is unbelievably juicy. I rarely fry chicken for a number of reasons, but one of them is that it is an art to have chicken fried this perfectly.

As I was able to sample the abundance of sides from the lazy Susan, I was reminded of simpler days when my mom filled the house with the aroma of fried chicken after church. The mashed potatoes with the cream gravy was my favorite. To be honest, my favorite food is pretty much anything with gravy. The corn, somewhere between whole kernel and creamed corn was another nice addition. I enjoy corn so much that I used to eat it straight off the stalk on my grandparents’ farm. I feel they tried too hard in seasoning the green beans, though. The flavor wasn’t bad, but not really good either. No worries. It made more room for gravy.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/b2e/65513996/files/2014/12/img_4824.jpg
This gravy is outta control.

I almost forgot about the banana pudding. Normally, meringue makes me sad, but it works with their pudding. The banana flavor was intense. I’m assuming that they are fortifying it with banana extract or maybe liqueur. The presence of the banana flavor was intense and delightful.

I rarely give out a five star review, but the food coupled with the atmosphere brings back some really nice memories. I don’t remember my grandma frying chicken, but I fondly remember her rooster stroganoff. You made sure to get your fill on your first plate because there was no chance for seconds as everyone greedily snatched it up by the ladleful. We will return to Babe’s so we can begin to form a new generation of memories.

Chocolate Chicken Fricassee

I don’t feel like I have been all that productive this week as I have been dealing with a flare up.  It’s just one of those things.  One day you feel decent, the next day you feel like you got hit by a truck.  Gone are the days where I feel like a rockstar.  I’m just glad for the days where I don’t shuffle like an old man.  

My kids tell me to hobble like the wind which reminds me of soft rocker Christopher Cross.  I’m then reminded of a quote from Butthead.  Regarding soft rockers, he said, “They decided to rebel against their parents by making even softer rock.”  That’s the mark of ultimate rebellion.  Nevertheless, “Ride Like the Wind” and “Sailing” have been stuck on my mental playlist for 34 years.  I try to push it out with Metallica or Dave Brubeck, but Christopher Cross usually wins the Battle of the Bands inside my brain.

fricassee3

Around 11:30 last night I was inspired to make chicken fricassee…with chocolate.  I nearly jumped into my soccer mom minivan to score some chicken thighs and chocolate last night, but I was able to resist the temptation until this afternoon.  I know, chocolate chicken just doesn’t sound all that appealing.  It’s not like chocolate fondue or anything, just enough to add a touch of panache.  My biggest critics are my kids and they thought it was great.  If my kids like it, it’s a big win for me.

Ingredients

6 chicken thighs

2 tablespoons yellow mustard

1 cup flour (for dredging the chicken)

2 slices bacon

1/2 cup vegetable oil

1 1/2 onions, sliced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3/4 cup flour

5 cups water

2 bay leaves

1 ounce 70% dark chocolate

1 tablespoon chicken base

3 tablespoons A1 steak sauce

1/4 teaspoon thyme

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon white pepper

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/8 teaspoon oregano

1 teaspoon parsley flakes

1/8 teaspoon cayenne

1 pound linguine (or pasta of your choice)

Seasoning Blend for Chicken

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon white pepper

1/2 teaspoon paprika

I love anything with gravy.
I love anything with gravy.

Method

Rinse chicken and remove excess fat and skin.  Pat dry with a paper towel.  Rub seasoning blend into chicken and coat with mustard.  Allow chicken to marinate for 30 minutes.

Dredge chicken in flour and shake off excess.

Render fat from two slices bacon in a cast iron dutch oven.  Remove and add 1/2 cup vegetable oil.  When heated, add chicken, skin side down.  Cook in two batches.  Allow chicken to fry over medium heat for four minutes and turn.  Allow to fry three minutes longer.

While chicken is frying, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Remove chicken and pour 3/4 cup flour into pot.  Combine oil and flour to make a roux.  Turn heat down to low and stir continuously until roux is a dark brown, about the color of milk chocolate.

Once the roux is sufficiently dark, add sliced onions.  This will stop the browning process.  Saute until onions begin to soften and add garlic.  Continue to cook until fragrant and onions are soft.

Add water and stir until roux has completely dissolved, resulting in a smooth gravy.

Add bay leaves, chocolate, steak sauce, thyme, black pepper, white pepper, chili powder, paprika, oregano, parsley flakes, and cayenne.  Blend well and and taste.  Make adjustments if necessary.

Mince the two slices of bacon and add to the gravy.  Also, introduce the par-fried chicken to the pot.  Cover and place in oven for 45 minutes.

About fifteen minutes before chicken is ready, prepare pasta according to the directions on the package. Enjoy.

Chocolate chicken fricassee on a bed of linguine.
Chocolate chicken fricassee on a bed of linguine.

Another Broken Egg Cafe

My wife and I don’t eat out much as normally we are feeding our three daughters as well. We were able to escape for a short while to enjoy an intimate brunch.

I’ve been to Another Broken Egg Cafe a couple of times and it tasted great, but I always went to eat lunch with a dude. Or maybe a dude and his girlfriend. This just kills the atmosphere.

It’s another story when you are with your wife. We both had a nice meal, but the breakfast sausage really stood out. It tasted great, though it’s not something you would want to gorge on. It’s a bit too salty for that. They had a decent house made cream gravy, and the eggs were perfect. If only the diced potatoes weren’t frozen.

I like fresh potatoes, but sometimes a restaurant goes for the quick and easy solution. I’ll have to take a star away for the mediocre potatoes, but overall, this is a great place to escape the din of arguing children.

Next time I’ll try the Bananas Foster pancakes.

20140702-202109-73269831.jpg