Gravy

This is the homemade gravy I make every Thanksgiving by demand of the family. Remember, the flour must go in the melted butter and cook before adding stock. That’s the key to avoiding lumps. Let the flour absorb the fat from the butter as it cooks and the flour will not clump together.

Homemade Gravy

Ingredients:

1 stick unsalted butter
1 medium sized sweet onion, finely chopped
1/4 c flour
1 ts kosher salt
1/2 ts freshly ground black pepper
Defatted turkey drippings plus chicken stock to make 2 cups; heated (or jarred stock if needed). Be sure it is steaming hot.
1 tb heavy cream

Directions:

1. In a large (10 to 12-inch) pan, cook the butter and onions over medium heat for 20 to 30 minutes, until the onions brown. Take your time. See the note for making ahead of time.

2. Sprinkle the flour into the pan, whisk well, then add the salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes, whisking occasionally. Add the hot chicken stock mixture, and cook uncovered for 4 to 5 minutes until thickened. Add cream. Season, to taste, and serve.

Notes: You can brown the onions the day before in the butter, then put them in a jar and put them in a fridge. Reheat in a skillet till bubbling on Thanksgiving Day before adding the flour.

Buttermilk Pie

I have to thank my pastor’s wife, Barbara Miller, for this pie. It has become a regular fixture in my house. Christy and I first had it at lunch at our pastor’s home after church one Sunday. I was afraid to eat it because I thought it was a coconut custard pie. But Christy gave me one of those “you better taste it” glances and I did.

Wow. Hooked. You will be too.

Buttermilk Pie

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter
2 tbsp flour
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
unbaked pie shell (deep dish or regular)
1/2 cup buttermilk

DO NOT USE LOW FAT BUTTERMILK OR GOD WILL BE ANGRY WITH YOU

VARIATION Erick hates and Christy loves:

Add zest of one lemon and sprinkle in blueberries. This will take longer to cook due to the extra liquid.

Directions:

Melt butter. Add sugar and flour. Beat with hand mixer. Add eggs and beat some more. Add buttermilk and vanilla. Mix thoroughly. Pour into an unbaked pie shell.

Bake at 340 degrees for 40 minutes or until browned and set.

Real Time Cooking: How to Make Gumbo

UPDATE: On Thanksgiving evening, I’ll take the left over turkey and use it, instead of chicken, in this recipe.


Being a native of Louisiana, gumbo is an essential part of football season and the fall. When the weather gets cool, the gumbo pot comes out and stays out pretty regularly until spring time. I often make a big pot and have our Sunday School class over after church. During December, I make both a chicken and sausage gumbo and a seafood gumbo and we have friends around the table. We also throw the leftover turkey from Thanksgiving in a gumbo pot.

It is the perfect communal meal, but people get intimidated by gumbo because of the roux. What I’ve done, by multiple requests, is put together a video of making gumbo. You can follow along the roux making process in real time. I will talk you through it, we will time out the pace, and you’ll have real gumbo just like my mom and her family make.

Here’s the recipe you will need. Make sure you have all the ingredients chopped, prepped, and individual bowls. Once you start making roux you won’t be able to stop.

Erick Erickson’s Gumbo
Prep Time: 15 mins | Cook Time: 90 minutes | Servings: 12 Servings

Ingredients:

1 c Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 c All-purpose flour
1 pk Andouille Sausage; Don’t use spicy andouille (Find Savoie’s)
1 md yellow onion; finely chopped
3 stalks Celery; finely chopped
1 lg Bell Pepper; finely chopped
1 tbs Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning
1 tbs salt
1 1/2 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
2 cloves Minced Garlic
4 to 6 Boneless/Skinless Chicken Breasts
4 Bay Leaves
64 oz Chicken Stock
2 tb Vegetable Oil
2 c chopped Frozen Okra
1 c Rice
2 c Water

Directions:

1. Cut sausage into rounds no thicker than 1/4 inch. Cut chicken into bite sized pieces.

2. Set a large dutch oven on medium heat and add oil. Sprinkle in the flour.

3. Stir constantly with a whisk for 30 minutes.

4. When roux is the color of a used copper penny, Add the sausage and, with a spoon, stir. The sausage will begin to bow in shape. When the sausage begins rendering its fat, add the vegetables and seasoning except the bay leaves, stirring constantly. After the vegetables have softened, make a well in the center of the pot, add the garlic to the well, then stir for 1 minute. Add the chicken. Stir till the chicken is mostly all white. Add the bay leaves.

5. Add the chicken stock and bring to a boil. Note: An additional 32 ounces of chicken stock can be added for more gumbo without watering down the roux. Once boiling, reduce heat to simmer on low, stirring occasionally for an hour.

6. After an hour, heat skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add okra. Heat until edges begin to brown and seeds pop. Add to gumbo, bring to a boil, and serve. But note that gumbo is tastier if cooled overnight in the fridge and reheated the next day.

7. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 1 cup of rice, lightly salt, and cover for 20 minutes on low heat. Pour gumbo on top to eat.

8. Don’t eat the bay leaves.

Notes: If you wish to add seafood to the gumbo, or in substitute of the chicken and sausage, cook this recipe and add seafood after the okra, allowing the gumbo to boil at least five minutes to cook the seafood. Shrimp, crab, oysters, and crawfish are traditional seafood additions.

My Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Just in time for Thanksgiving. These take a while to make, but they are easy and worth it.

Do this between 8 and 9 pm the night before:

Basic Sweet-Roll Dough
Prep Time: 1 hr 15 minutes

Ingredients:

1/2 cup water
1/2 cup whole milk
1 packet active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
1/4 cup sugar + 1 tsp
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled, plus more for brushing
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Warm water and the milk in a saucepan over low heat until a thermometer registers 100 degrees F to 110 degrees F. Remove from the heat and sprinkle the yeast on top, then sprinkle with one teaspoon of the sugar; set aside, undisturbed, until foamy, about 5 minutes.

Whisk the melted butter, egg yolk and vanilla into the yeast mixture until combined. In a mixer, whisk the flour, the remaining sugar and salt. Slowly add the yeast mixture and stir until a sticky dough forms. Increase speed on the mixer and knead till dough is elastic (about 3 minutes). It will be sticky.

Spray non-stick spray throughly in a large bowl. Shape the dough and add it to the bowl, turning to coat lightly with the spray (use soften butter as an alternative). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until the dough is doubled in size, about 1 hour, 15 minutes.

Turn the dough out of the bowl and knead briefly to release excess air; re-form into a ball and return to the bowl. Lightly butter a large piece of plastic wrap and lay it directly on the surface of the dough. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.

The next morning do this:

Classic Cinnamon Rolls
Prep Time: 1 H 45 M | Cook Time: 30 M | Servings: 12 rolls

Ingredients:

For the rolls:
1 1/2 sticks (12 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the pan
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
All-purpose flour, for dusting
1 batch Basic Sweet-Roll Dough

For the glaze:
1 1/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Directions:

Make the rolls: Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Whisk the sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. On a floured surface, roll out the dough into a 10-by-18-inch rectangle. Spread the butter over the dough, leaving a 1-inch border on one of the long sides. Top with the cinnamon sugar. Brush the clean border with water. Tightly roll the dough into an 18-inch log, rolling toward the clean border; pinch the seam to seal.

With a tape measure, make a slight score across the log ever 1 1/2 inches. Slip a long taut piece of thread or unflavored floss under the roll, about 1 1/2 inches from the end at the first score mark. Lift the ends of the thread and cross over the roll, pulling tightly to cut off a piece. Repeat, cutting every 1 1/2 inches, to make 12 rolls. Place the rolls in the prepared baking dish.

Cover the rolls loosely with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour, 10 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the rolls and bake until they spring back when pressed, 25 to 30 minutes. Let cool 10 minutes in the pan. (You can freeze the baked rolls for up to 2 weeks. Cool completely before freezing, then thaw, warm up and glaze before serving.)

Make the glaze: Whisk the confectioners’ sugar, melted butter, milk, vanilla and salt in a bowl until smooth. Drizzle over the warm rolls.

Recipe: Let Them Eat Pound Cake

This is the pound cake recipe my kids and I demand my wife make. It’s a wonderful recipe. Allegedly you can add the eggs without separating out the whites, but doing it as the recipe suggests leads to a fluffier cake.

The Best Pound Cake
★★★★★
Prep Time: 30 mins | Cook Time: 1 hr 30 mins

Ingredients:

2 sticks salted butter
3 cups sugar
6 eggs
8 oz sour cream
3 cups all purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract

Directions:

Remember to use salted butter.

1. Let butter, eggs, and sour cream come to room temperature

2. Put butter in stand mixer, set to medium speed, then add three cups of sugar. Cream the mixture, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. While the mixture is creaming, move to the flour.

3. Sift three cups of flour onto one piece of wax paper. Then, on a second piece of wax paper, scoop three level cups of the sifted flour from the first piece of paper. Do not pack in the flour.

4. Add baking soda and salt to the flour, the sift into a bowl. By now the butter and sugar should be creamed.

5. Separate each egg, putting all the whites in a bowl and adding the yolks to the batter. After each yolk is added to the batter, mix thoroughly. Add sour cream and flour, one-third at a time, rotating between the two and mixing well between each addition. Add the vanilla and almond.

6. Grease and flour a bundt pan.

7. Beat egg whites until stiff peaks form, then fold the egg whites into the batter. Pour the batter into the bundt pan.

8. Bake at 300°F for 90 minutes. This cake is unstable while baking, so minimize vibrations and loud noises.

9. Remove from oven and let rest 10 minutes. Then turn out onto a plate and then quickly turn over again onto a cake platter so that the crunchy crust is on top.

A Gumbo Recipe Revision

Yes, we do recipes here too. Everyone needs a distraction from politics.

This is a revision from my standard gumbo recipe that minimizes the pots you’ll need to clean.

Everybody in Louisiana has a gumbo recipe. I was deeply offended when Bon Appetit magazine did a profile on college tailgating using the LSU v. Ole Miss game from last year. Their gumbo recipe used carrots and oregano. That is horrifying.

The trinity is simple: onion, bell pepper, and celery. Carrots do not play a part in it. Neither does oregano.

Below is my recipe. I make it when the weather turns cool and keep making it through Mardi Gras. If you want a seafood gumbo, leave out the chicken and sausage. Do everything else in the recipe. Add your uncooked seafood after the okra. It’ll cook in the gumbo and add a greater depth of flavor. When I make it with seafood, I use crab, shrimp, and crawfish.

This recipe is spicy, but you may want to add more cayenne (I usually do) after the gumbo has rested a few hours. The taste and heat will change. That is one reason I recommend never using a hot andouille. It will impact the heat over a few hours.

Erick Erickson’s Basic Gumbo
Prep Time: Servings: 12 Servings

Ingredients:

1 pk Andouille Sausage; Don’t use spicy andouille. (I use Savoie’s andouille)
1 md yellow onion; finely chopped
3 st Celery; finely chopped
1 lg Bell Pepper; finely chopped
4 boneless, skinless Chicken Breasts
2 ts Minced Garlic; heaping
3 bo Beer
1 c Vegetable Oil
1 1/2 c All-purpose flour
3 Bay Leaves
1 tb Salt
1 tb Tony Chachere’s Cajun seasoning
1 tsp Black Pepper
1 tsp Thyme
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper
64 oz Chicken Stock; Heat 32 oz in microwave to boiling
2 tb Vegetable Oil
2 c Frozen Okra; chopped
1 c Rice
2 c Water

Directions:

1. Chop all vegetables finely. Slice the sausage into no more than 1/4 inch discs. Cut the chicken into bite sized chunks.

2. Open first beer. Put chicken stock in microwave, heat it, then set beside the dutch oven. Set on medium heat and add 1 cup of oil. Coat the bottom of the dutch oven. Sprinkle in the flour. Begin drinking the beer.

3. Stir constantly with a whisk for 20 minutes. Continue throughout drinking beer. After second beer is consumed, check to see that the roux is the color of a copper penny. If not, proceed to third beer and keep whisking. Do not go beyond 30 minutes.

4. When roux is the color of a well used copper penny, add the sausage and stir with a spoon. The sausage should begin to curl around the edges. When that happens add the onion, celery, and bell pepper. Add seasonings, bay leaves, and garlic. Stir for a minute to brown the garlic.

5. Add the chicken and keep stirring until the chicken is mostly white on the outside. Add the chicken stock. First pour in the preheated stock. Then add the additional. Bring it to a boil, reduce heat to low, and let simmer for an hour, stirring occasionally.

6. After an hour heat a skillet with 2 tablespoons of oil. Add okra. Heat until edges begin to brown, the stickiness is reduced, and seeds pop. Add to gumbo. At this point the gumbo is ready. If you want to add seafood, bring the gumbo to a boil, add the seafood, reduce heat to low again, and stir frequently for five minutes until the seafood is cooked through. Gumbo is tastier if cooled overnight in the fridge and reheated the next day.

7. Bring 2 cups of water to a boil. Once boiling, add 1 cup of rice, lightly salt, and cover for 20 minutes on low heat. Pour gumbo on top to eat.

8. Don’t eat the bay leaves.

Grown Up Hot Chocolate

I made this last night and put the initial picture on Instagram. Lots of people wanted the recipe so here it is.

Grown Up Hot Chocolate

1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup cocoa or shaved bittersweet chocolate (I actually like the Williams-Sonoma Hot Chocolate mix)
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 cups hot water
caramel sauce
whipped cream
1 oz. amaretto (optional)
sea salt (optional)

Directions:

In a large saucepan, combine sweetened condensed milk, cocoa, vanilla and salt; mix well. Over medium heat, slowly stir in water; heat through, stirring occasionally, but do not boil.

OR, add everything to a Vitamix blender and set to soup setting.

To serve: inside a mug, drizzle caramel sauce around the edge. Pour amaretto into the cup. Add the hot chocolate. Top with whipped cream, drizzle caramel over the whipped cream, and sprinkle sea salt.

Then there’s the brisket sauce

Once you’ve made brisket, you need the sauce to go with it. I tinkered with a recipe in the Williams-Sonoma Grill Masters cookbook for over a year before I got one that I really like. This is what I make every time I make brisket. I also use it on Boston butt, but it is best with beef.

3 tbs margarine (see note)
1/2 cup sweet onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup Heinz ketchup (see note)
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice (strain the pulp)
2 tbs honey
1 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs mustard
1 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Put the margarine over medium heat to melt it then add in the onions. Stir until the onions are soft and browning. There’ll be mostly steam for a while because they’ll be crowded in, but slowly the water will reduce and the browning will begin. When the onion begins to brown, add the garlic and stir for about a minute.

Add the rest of the ingredients and whisk well.

Reduce heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes to reduce. It will thicken.

Use immediately for refrigerate for up to a week.

It tastes better the next day.

NOTE: Yes, you must use margarine. Don’t believe me? Try it with butter. This is the only recipe that I use margarine over butter. But it really makes a difference once the sauce cools. Also, there is a difference between Heinz ketchup and other brands (looking at you, Hunts). The Heinz plays better with the other flavors and the heat.