Kitchen Focus

Last month, we talked about being prepared for making sweet sauces at a moment's notice. In many ways, being ready for savory sauces is the same. The most important step is making sure that you have the ingredients that you'll need on hand. The good news is that most quick savory sauces rely on a few great ingredients that are easy to have on hand at all times. Here's what I've got in my home for making savory sauces a breeze:

In the freezer
  • Wings and bacon
  • Chives
  • Bacon drippings
  • Butter
In the refrigerator
  • Green onions, carrots and celery
  • A wide variety of mustards
  • Chutneys, soy sauce and curry or Asian pastes
  • A wide variety of cheeses
In the pantry
  • A wide variety of wines and vinegars
  • Onions and garlic
  • A wide variety of canned broths
  • A wide variety of spices and seasonings
  • Cornstarch

With these items on hand, I can put together everything from a tangy dressing for a German potato salad to a quick cheese sauce for pasta. Even a sauce for a quick stir-fry can be as simple as tossing soy sauce, wine, chicken broth, green onions, cornstarch and some crushed red peppers into a resealable jar and shaking it together before adding it to a hot wok. Having an assortment of savory sauce ingredients on hand also means you can be more creative with your sauces as you find flavor combinations that you enjoy. The sky really is the limit.

To get you started and inspired, I'm including a simple recipe that is a life-saver for those making a boneless turkey breast, smoking a turkey or deep-frying a turkey for Thanksgiving. If you're without pan drippings, you don't have to be without gravy!

Turkey Wing Gravy

  • 2 lb. turkey wings
  • 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
  • 4 cups chicken broth
  • 2/3 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/4 tsp. dried thyme
  • 2/3 cup flour
  • 1 T. butter
  • 1/4 tsp. ground pepper

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Put the wings in a single layer in a roasting pan; scatter the onions on top. Roast for 1 hour or until the wings are browned.

Put the wings and onions in a pot. Add 1 cup of water to the roasting pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on the bottom. Add the water to the pot. Add 3 cups of the broth (refrigerate the remaining 1 cup), the carrots and thyme. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for 1 1/2 hours.

Remove the wings. When they are cool, pull off the skin and meat. Discard the skin and save the meat for another use.

Strain the broth into a saucepan, pressing the vegetables to extract as much of the liquid as possible. Discard the vegetables and skim the fat off the broth.

Whisk the flour into the remaining 1 cup of broth until it is thoroughly blended and smooth.

Bring the broth in the saucepan to a gentle boil. Whisk in the flour mixture and boil it for 4 to 5 minutes to thicken the gravy and remove any floury taste. Stir in the butter and pepper.

  • Yields: 4 cups gravy
  • Preparation Time: about 3 hours, mostly simmering time

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