I know this is almost un-American, but typically, I am just not a gravy girl. Maybe it is because nobody in my family really makes gravy. For Thanksgiving, we just buy a bunch of jars of that gloppy excuse for turkey gravy. Geez, I think that stuff could be used to spackle holes in drywall. I’d rather smear some of my homemade cranberry sauce (ooh, ooh, ooh, hoping to share that recipe on Thursday!) on my turkey. Or even dip it in the green bean casserole – yes, the kind made with canned french style green beans, canned cream of mushroom soup and canned fried onions. Somehow this is acceptable, but gravy from a jar is not. I am not going to explain myself.
And truthfully, homemade kinda bugs me a bit, too. It always looks so greasy and heavy, and sometimes lumpy. And it isn’t even my family’s lack of skill in this area – I don’t typically order anything with gravy even when I am eating out. Also, I think making homemade gravy, especially on a holiday where there is so much food happening and timing is kind of crazy, the last thing you want to do is worry about making gravy AFTER the turkey comes out of my oven. If you family is anything like mine, the side dishes are al done, and they are hovering around the table, waiting till the last bit of pink is no longer visible in the turkey.
But l started playing around with using apple cider as a base for a gravy, and I am loving the results. I actually was eating this stuff by the spoonful. OK, so maybe that was a moment of pregnancy weakness, but whatever.
The savory tang of the dijon mustard balances the sweetness of the cider, and you get that seasonal earthiness from the sage and thyme. The dried cranberries rehydrate and provided some pops of color and of sweet-tart flavor. Also, I used cornstarch instead of flour, for thickening, so this gravy can be made gluten-free, and if you don’t serve it over meat, it is also vegetarian/vegan. So have it with your tofurkey!
On this particular evening, I made it with pork chops, so that is how I wrote up the recipe, but it is very versatile. One of my first trials with cider gravy was with a crockpot roast chicken and it was wonderful. In that case, I used some of the juices that collected in the crockpot in place of some of the cider, which made it a bit more savory. I also reheated the leftover gravy from pork chop night a few nights later, and since it had thickened in the fridge, I thinned it out with some vegetable stock (turkey or chicken stock would work well, also), and served it over some turkey cutlets and smashed potatoes.
This gravy would be the perfect addition to your Thanksgiving menu if you are looking for something different, don’t want the jarred stuff, or don’t want to be rushing to make the gravy while your family is salivating, since it can be made ahead of time.
What kind of gravy do you pour over your Thanksgiving bird? (links welcome)
- 2 c apple cider (can substitute up to half with stock or the juices/dripping from roasting a bird)
- ¼ c dijon mustard
- 2 T corn starch
- 1 t kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- 1 T finely chopped fresh sage
- 1 t chopped fresh thyme
- 1 t olive oil
- Half of a large, or one small shallot
- Four boneless pork chops (about 1 lb.) – if using, can also substitute chicken or turkey, or simply make the gravy alone
- Kosher salt & freshly ground pepper
- ¼ c dried cranberries
- In a bowl or large measuring cup, combine cider, mustard, corn starch, salt, pepper, sage, and thyme. Whisk to combine.
- Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add shallot and cook for a minute or two, or until it starts to soften.
- If using the pork or chicken, add to the pan, and brown on each side for about 3 minutes.
- Add the cider mixture and dried cranberries, bring to a simmer, and cook for 10-15 minutes, or until thickened (and, if cooking meat in the gravy, until the meat is cooked through).
- Serve gravy over the meat that had cooked in the gravy, or over your roasted or baked chicken, turkey, pork, etc.