My Grandfather's Perfect Turkey Gravy

H A P P Y   T H A N K S G I V I N G !

I have a special recipe for all of you. The ultimate gravy recipe. My family has made this gravy year after year for generations... and I now have made it for my American and foreign friends while living here in Paris. Everyone asks for the recipe, and we all pine over it the next day when the last of the leftovers are being fought over. ENJOY.



Turkey giblets ( except the liver)
3 cups organic chicken stock
1 onion
1 carrot
1/4 cup chopped parsley
a few sprigs of Thyme
1 bay leaf
1 cup Madeira wine ( important ingredient! )
3/4 cup cream
4 tsp flour
3 cups water plus 1/4 cup
S & P

Giblet Stock (to be made in advance while turkey is roasting): In a large sauce pan, brown all giblets (except liver) in butter and add 3 cups water, 3 cups chicken stock, parsley, thyme, bay leaf, 1 onion and 1 carrot (stick a clove in the onion if you have one).  Boil for 2 -3 hours and skim the fat from mixture.

When Turkey comes out of the oven and is removed from roasting pan to rest, skim fat from drippings at the bottom of the pan. Place a zip-top plastic bag inside a 2-cup glass measuring cup. Pour drippings from pan into bag; let stand 10 minutes (remaining fat will rise to the top). Seal bag; carefully snip off 1 bottom corner. Drain drippings into a bowl, stopping before fat layer reaches opening; discard fat. You can skip this step if you can effectively remove the fat content. It's important to get rid of the fat in order to obtain a velvety smooth gravy.

Pour drippings back into roasting pan and put pan over moderate high heat directly on your range ( place over 2 burners). Add 1 cup Madeira to drippings, and reduce by cooking over moderate high heat until 1/2 of original volume. Be sure to scrape in any bits and pieces of drippings stuck to the bottom of the pan into mixture as they will dissolve well and add a lot of flavor. You can use a gravy whisk. Once reduced, pour liquid through a sieve into a medium sized saucepan and return to range. 

Add the giblet stock to sauce pan over medium heat and reduce to 2 cups. Add 3/4 cup cream. Stir in 4 teaspoon's flour that has been dissolved in 1/4 cup water. Simmer 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serves 8 - 10. For a larger group, simply double this recipe.

Hazelnuts, Chocolates and Vines

The Langhe region of Piedmont, Italy, surrounding the city of Alba has become one of our favorite places to visit regularly. Four out of the last five harvest (and white truffle) seasons have found us meandering through the countless hills, on our way to a meal, a vineyard, or in safari mode, hoping to cross paths with the enormous white boar we once encountered, (roughly the same size as our rented Fiat 500).

We recently had the pleasure of staying at Cascina Sant'Eufemia, a stones throw from Barolo (just outside the DOC designation), hosted by the charming Paolo and Chiara.  Here they produce the three classic varieties of red wine from the region, Dolcetto, Barbera, and Nebbiolo as well as the incredible Nociola Piemonte IGP, that is, the name-protected Piedmontese hazelnut.

It's difficult to describe why the Piedmontese hazelnut is so much better than the one we're all familiar with.  I suppose you could think of the difference between a tomato from a supermarket in the middle of winter and an heirloom tomato from the farmers market at the peak of summer ripeness.  It's that kind of difference.  It's also worth noting that the Ferrero headquarters is located in Alba, and is responsible for the city having the highest average income in Italy.  More importantly, Ferrero is the company that produces Nutella, and if you get lost it in the right part of town, you'll find yourself driving through a sweet-smelling , chocalate-hazelnut cloud.

If you're in the Langhe region, you're probably there to eat and drink, and it's likely that you'd   be interested in some of the sweeter things not always available at the restaurants and vineyards.   Ravera Cioccolateria in Cherasco gives the Piedmont hazelnut the respect it deserves in their delicious chocolates and the supreme gianduja (jahn-du-ya), a confection native to Piedmont, invented in the late 1800s, under Napoleon's reign.  Go there, and do your best to save some sweets for after dinner and maybe even a few for when you get back home.

Even in the fog of early winter, the changing leaves glow in the vineyards.  It is a serene joy to drive around these hills with nothing but a dinner reservation on the agenda and empty hours to explore the valleys and villages.

After a few days of hearing us tout the glories of the Piedmont hazelnut, Chiara offered to make us a flourless hazelnut torte from an old family recipe.  On our last morning at the cascina, we dunked slice after slice in our coffee before heading back home.  But not without the recipe...

(..which happens to be gluten free)


200 g (1 1/2 cups) toasted hazelnuts, finely ground in a food processor
200 g (1 cup) sugar
4 egg yolks
4 egg whites
pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 180˚ Celsius (350˚ Fahrenheit). Whip egg whites with a pinch of salt until stiff, then add sugar and continue beating. Add egg yolks one at a time, whipping constantly. Add ground hazelnuts to egg white mixture until smooth and well combined. Pour mixture into a round cake pan ( about 20cm in diameter) that's been lined with parchment paper ( or buttered and floured). 

Bake for 30 minutes......e buon appetito!

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