When I think of comfort food, there are really only two meals that grab me and make me appreciate true home cooking. The first is a turkey dinner served at Thanksgiving and the second is a well-cooked pot roast. Don't get me wrong, I'll eat anything that is presented to me on a plate, however, turkey and pot roast are meals that completely satisfy me. They require loosening of the top button on my pants and no immediate plans to do anything afterward. In fact, I'm barely able to summon the strength to carry my plate to the sink. Oddly enough, I do have just enough energy left to operate a fork to dismantle a dessert should it come my way.
For my pot roast, I use 3-4 pounds of bottom round roast. Heat a couple tablespoons of oil in a pan and brown all sides of the roast. In the crock pot, empty 1 packet of dry Lipton's Onion Soup mix plus 3 cups of water. I also add chopped garlic, thyme, salt, pepper, and 1 bay leaf to the crock pot. Place meat in the crock pot and cook on high for about 3-1/2 -4 hours. Add celery, onions, and carrots and continue cooking for 30-45 minutes.
My wife is the mashed potato wizard in the family. Hey, I like the sound of that. I may have to use that in the future. Wouldn't that make any woman proud to have that moniker? I can see it in cards; Happy Birthday Mashed Potato Wizard! Merry Christmas MPW! OK, back on track. My wife makes very creamy potatoes with a combination of butter, milk, sour cream, salt, and pepper all whipped into a frenzy of potatoee goodness. For my part, I make the gravy. I think gravy was one of my biggest challenges to make gluten free, second only to bread. Let me rephrase that. Making good gravy was a challenge. I had no problem making lumpy, gluey, flavorless goo. I think part of the problem lies in my culinary background. Rewind a few years. My exposure to cooking when I was in high school consisted of waiting for my mom to come home after a full day of work to prepare a meal for me. From the recliner in the living room, it was hard to see exactly how she prepared my food. (Mom, if you ever figure out how to get onto the Internet and happen to read this, I have a huge appreciation for all that you did. I love you.)
My college years were no better. If I needed gravy, I tore into a 19 cent packet of powdered mix and reconstituted it with water. Yum. All this being said, I had a bit of a learning curve when taking on gravy for the first time. Let alone gluten free gravy. There were plenty of disasters along the way, as my wife can attest to. Although she would always choke it down and say "well it's been so long since I've had real gravy, I don't really remember what it's supposed to taste like. " I'm thinking: 'I know what it's supposed to taste like, and this isn't it." So here are my lessons learned in the fine art of gravy making:
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs gluten free flour mix
1-1/2 cups juice/liquid from crock pot or from roasting pan if making turkey gravy
1/2 cup water
Salt and Pepper to taste
Begin by making a gluten free roux (equal parts fat and flour).
I usually make my roux with 2 Tbs of butter and 2 Tbs of gluten free flour mix but I'm sure you could substitute another fat or oil for the butter. The key is equal parts of flour and fat.
Melt butter in a sauce pan on medium-high heat. After foaming subsides, stir in flour until thoroughly mixed. About 30 seconds. Add all the liquid to the flour/butter mix and whisk continually. Bring to a boil. The gravy may be lumpy at first but it will smooth out as you whisk it. Season with salt and pepper. Start out slowly, you can always add more seasoning. Continue whisking occasionally for about 3-5 minutes. You don't want it to burn to the bottom of the pan. Reduce heat to low. The gravy will thicken as it cools. Adjust seasoning as necessary. If the gravy is too thick, whisk in more liquid and return to a boil. If it is too thin, make a little more roux in another sauce pan, then whisk it into the gravy. It doesn't sound like rocket science but it took me awhile to make consistently smooth and tasty gravy. Pour over potatoes and anything else your heart desires.