Kari's Thankgiving recipes, part two
The first time I ever had biscuits and sausage gravy was in Seattle, at a place that was recommended by an acquaintance. I was so excited and thought, "Americans know how to do it up! This is going to be amazing, like an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives!" Unfortunately, it was a colossal disappointment. My friends have jokingly called me an Amazon before, yet the biscuit was so tough that I had struggled to cut through it, and there was a giant pool of oil floating on top of the gravy, which covered the entire dinner plate. It would have been like trying to eat a piece of leather that was on a giant smear of axle grease. No way!
Most of us are familiar with the phrase, "If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself!" Here are my favourite recipes for fluffy biscuits and a sweet vegetarian gravy. Both of them are good for you, easy to make, satisfyingly delicious, and great with other Thanksgiving dishes. I have served these to animal lovers as well as meat lovers, and everybody has been both happy and stuffed.
Whole Wheat and Rosemary Cheddar Biscuits
This recipe is quick and easy, and will give you soft, pillowy biscuits that are hearty and savoury. They're perfect with soups, sauces, breakfast meats, or even on their own. The fresh rosemary really shines here, so pinch a few leaves from a neighbor, or hunt down bag of sprigs at the store, because you were probably going to need it for ten other dishes anyway. Throwing in a pinch of chili pepper flakes or a teaspoon of chopped sun-dried tomatoes makes these even better!
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 pinch black pepper
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1/4 cup butter, cubed and chilled
1 cup milk
Preheat oven to 400°F and set a rack at the center level, and another rack at the top level.
Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, pepper, and rosemary in a bowl.
Cut butter into the dry ingredients, until the mixture is coarse and mealy with a few pea-sized chunks of butter. Stir in the cheese.
Add milk and gently mix with a fork. Do not overwork the dough. It should be moist.
Line a baking sheet pan with parchment paper and drop biscuits onto pan by giant heaping tablespoons, about 1/4 cup each. Press tops down slightly, and set the pan on top of another pan of the same size if you can, to prevent burnt bottoms.
Bake 10 minutes on the center rack at 400°F until golden on the bottom, and finish at BROIL for another minute or two on the top rack.
Remove from oven and devour immediately or move to a cooling rack and reheat later. Best served piping hot, especially with gravy!
Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Gravy
Very few people can resist a well-made gravy during holiday dinners. I usually see errant chunks of cranberry goo left on plates right before guests have thrown in the napkin, but nine times out of ten, the gravy spots have been wiped or licked clean. This recipe was originally created for a vegetarian friend who was hard-pressed to find decent sauces that weren't based on meat drippings or powder packets. This gravy is rich and flavourful, pleases veggie-lovers and bacon-lovers alike, and easily pairs with meats, starches, and french fries! Midnight snacks will never be the same.
For this recipe I used white button mushroom caps, but adding a few shredded oyster mushrooms or chopped portobellos would be fantastic!
4 tbsp butter
3 tbsp olive oil
4 cups sliced white or yellow onions
4 cups chopped mushrooms
2 1/2 tbsp flour or more as needed
3 cups low-sodium veggie stock
salt and pepper to taste
Melt 2 tbsp butter with 1 tbsp olive oil in a saucepan over low-medium heat. Add onions with a pinch of salt and stir to coat. Warm up stock in a separate pot over medium heat.
Stir onions occasionally until softened and brown, about 20 to 30 minutes. Transfer to a cutting board, chop finely, and set aside in a small bowl.
Turn heat up to medium-high, add another tablespoon each of butter and olive oil, half of the mushrooms, and a pinch of salt, stirring occasionally until the mushrooms have released all of their liquid and have caramelized.
Set cooked mushrooms aside with the onions and repeat with the second half of the mushrooms.
Return vegetables to the pan and stir in flour until a thick paste forms around the vegetables and they don't look shiny anymore. Continue to stir and let it heat for another minute or two.
Add stock, 1 cup at a time, letting liquid come to a simmer for a minute before stirring and adding more.
Simmer 15 minutes until thickened and the raw flour taste has disappeared. Season with salt and pepper.
If you don't like veggie chunks in your gravy, buzz it in a milkshake blender or with a hand-held immersion blender.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!