Wednesday, June 10, 2015

My Favorite Pork Gravy

Rich tasting but not high calorie, this pairs beautifully with pork loin, tenderloin, and chops. It doesn't matter how they're cooked: on the barbeque, stove top, or oven, it all works. You'll pour the juices from the plate the cooked pork has rested on into the gravy. Lots of fresh thyme, parsley, white wine, and a squeeze of lemon brighten it up. Allow 30 minutes from start to finish, so the prunes have time to thoroughly steep. That's about the same time for a tenderloin to roast in the oven and then rest, so it times out perfectly. This makes plenty of gravy for 4 chops or one average size tenderloin.

3/4 c dry white wine
3/4 c chicken stock
Kosher salt & freshly ground black pepper
1 rounded TB fresh thyme, lightly chopped
6-8 pitted prunes, halved
1 large shallot, finely chopped
Big handful fresh flat leaf parsley, roughly chopped
1-2 tsp fresh lemon juice
2 tsp arrowroot (in the spices aisle of the grocery store)

Pour the wine, chicken stock and thyme in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Add a few pinches of salt and about 8-10 grinds of pepper. Remove from heat, add the prunes, cover and let steep for a good 20 minutes. If I'm roasting a tenderloin, I do this step as the oven is pre-heating. That way I know it's steeped at least as long as the pork is cooking.

Cook your pork. This time it was pork chops. For the two of us, I just took one boneless, butterflied chop, cut it in two, trimmed off all the fat, pressed salt, pepper, and lots of chopped fresh sage into both sides.

I used a 10" black iron skillet, heated a scant 1 TB EVOO over medium-high, cooked the chops 5 minutes on one side, 2 minutes on the other side. Removed them from the heat to a plate and tented with foil to rest. See the juices that were released? Going in the gravy.

If you are roasting a tenderloin in the oven, I recommend you still use a black iron skillet so you can scrape up the little bits of fond into the gravy. Just be careful when you take it from the oven and don't accidentally grab the handle with your bare hand once it's on the stove!!

Back to the gravy:  in your skillet, over medium heat on the stove, add a drizzle of EVOO, just enough to cook the shallots. Use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape up any fond if you cooked the meat in the skillet. Add the shallots and a bit of salt and pepper, stir and cook for a couple of minutes. Add the prune-stock-wine liquid, the juices from the resting meat, and bring to a simmer. Add a squeeze of lemon, 1 or 2 tsp. You should taste a bit of acid but not be able to tell that it's lemon. Add salt & pepper if needed. Stir in the parsley.

In a small teacup or bowl, make a slurry of 2 tsp arrowroot and 4 tsp cold water. Stir briskly till smooth. Remove gravy from the heat and pour in the slurry, stirring gravy constantly for about a minute until it thickens up to your liking. Pour into a gravy boat and serve.

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Note: My friends and I recently had a conversation about gravy thickeners. If you are on the GARD diet, you should not use cornstarch. It's made from corn, which is a big no-no for us. Consider, too, that even though "it's just a little bit", it is the very concentrated dried starch from the corn. Not good. And, unless otherwise stated on the package, it's from GMO corn. You may not get sick, but it is still silently doing damage to your gut :-(.

You could also use oil and potato starch to make a roux, but I find it's more unpredictable: sometimes  the potato starch binds up too quickly and tends to "break" before it's fully thickened the sauce or gravy. It could be my lack of cooking skill, but it drives me crazy and this is easy and quick and guaranteed to work every time.

You could also use oil and tapioca starch to make a roux.

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