Thursday, January 6, 2011

(Purple?) Pan Gravy and Mashed Potatoes

Gravy is a bit decadent, and my recipe is not low-calorie. But, man, is it good! There are so many sites that talk about making gravy, and I think they make a very simple thing waaaaay too hard.

I'll share my version -- it's quick, easy, and soooooo good!

Oh, and purple gravy? That just so happened to happen one night, when I used some very dark red wine that I love, Nero d'Avola, the black grape wine of Sicily. Archero's Nero D'Avola, from Trader Joe's is only $4.99 a bottle, and wonderful.

Check it out at

Pan Gravy
This goes VERY quickly, so have all ingredients at hand before starting, as well as your whisk and spatula.


  • The skillet or roasting pan full of brown bits and juices, from which the chicken, turkey, roast, etc. has been removed to rest, before carving and serving (greatly improves tenderness and juiciness!)
  • About 1/4 cup of liquid with which to deglaze the pan -- I've successfully used balsamic vinegar, beer, red wine, stock, broth, V-8 juice, milk, and evaporated milk!
  • Flour, 1 or 2 Tablespoons
  • Butter, 1 pat
  • Salt & pepper to taste


  1. Put the pan over medium high heat -- if it is a large roasting pan, you may want to put it over two burners.
  2. Pour in the deglazing liquid, and as it starts to bubble, use a flat edge metal spatula to scrape up all the brown bits on the bottom of the pan -- these bring on the wonderful flavor.
  3. Quickly whisk in a tablespoon or so of the flour until completely blended, then cook about 30 seconds, constantly scraping along the bottom of the pan with the spatula.
  4. Carefully determine whether your gravy needs a bit more flour -- it will thicken quickly over the heat. If it gets too thick, you can whisk in more liquid.
  5. When it looks about right, turn off the heat, and TIP: stir in the pat of butter, along with salt and pepper to taste. I got this tip somewhere, and it really does add a little je ne sais quoi (something special, I don't know what) to a hot sauce or gravy.
  6. Pour it into your gravy server, and be sure to make some mashed potatoes, biscuits, rolls, or something so that folks can really enjoy the wonderful pan gravy you've just made -- even if it turns out to be PURPLE!

Marvelous Mashed Potatoes with Skins

Mashed potatoes are very flexible, and can be made with all kinds of potatoes, or blends, even including sweet potatoes or yams, without tasting 'weird." I've found that leaving the skins on doesn't bother anyone in my family, and it definitely adds to the nutrition. Mashed potatoes taste wonderful with all kinds of dairy fat, and if you want to go richer, you can add sour cream, cream cheese, cream, or more butter. But we are trying to be healthy, here, and after all, if you're going to serve these with gravy, no need to go overboard on the butter! On the other end of things, you can make these with nothing but low-fat milk, and skip the butter altogether. Here's one good version, somewhat balanced between lower fat and higher deliciousness!


  • 2 Idaho potatoes, large
  • 4 red potatoes, medium
  • 1 yam, pealed, optional
  • Olive oil, 1/4 cup
  • Butter, 1/4 cup
  • Salt & pepper
  • Milk, about 1/2 cup


  1. Microwave cook the potatoes, in their own jackets. Cook for about 4 minutes, then rotate all the potatoes, and pinch them for doneness. Cook another 3 minutes, check, and continue cooking until soft when you pinch them.
  2. In a large bowl, put in all the potatoes, oil, butter, salt & peper to taste. With a hand mixer, smash the potatoes a bit, then blend them a bit, but not too much -- over mixing makes them have a gooey texture, and we like ours lumpy. The potato skins will tear apart and blend in.
  3. Add the milk, beating very briefly, add more milk if desired, and mix until the thickness and texure are how you like your mashed potatoes.

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