Milk Street Thanksgiving: Meat Free Gravy

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Rich and Savory Meat-Free Gravy
11⁄4 hours
21⁄2 cups

This all-purpose vegetarian gravy is so rich and full-flavored, the carnivores at the table likely will not suspect it’s meat-free. Pour it over mashed potatoes or roasted vegetables or even serve it alongside a roasted chicken or turkey. We build deep savoriness into it by browning the ingredients and deglazing the flavorful drippings. Plus, we use both miso and tomato paste to lend umami notes; soy sauce also adds depth of flavor and color. If you have dried shiitake mushrooms in your pantry, simmering one or two (broken into pieces) into the mix adds an extra layer of meaty flavor, but the gravy is delicious without them. If you’re serving a crowd, the recipe can be doubled, but use a Dutch oven instead of a saucepan. The gravy can be made up to three days in advance; store in an airtight  container in the refrigerator and rewarm gently over medium just before serving.

Don’t season the gravy with salt and pepper until it has fully reduced. Salt is added to the cremini mushrooms to encourage them to give up their moisture, and both the miso and soy sauce add salinity. These ingredients may provide enough saltiness on their own. If salt is added before the gravy is fully reduced, it may wind up overseasoned.

INGREDIENTS
6 tablespoons (3⁄4 stick) salted butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, chopped
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
1 medium celery stalk, chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon white or red miso
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
1⁄2 cup dry white wine
11⁄2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
1⁄2 teaspoon dried thyme
1-2 dried shiitake mushrooms, broken into pieces (optional)

DIRECTIONS
1. In a large saucepan over medium-high, melt the butter. Add the cremini mushrooms and 1⁄2 teaspoon salt, then cook, stirring, until the liquid released by the creminis has evaporated and the mushrooms are well browned, 10 to 12 minutes.

2. Stir in the onion, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until it is well browned at the edges, about 5 minutes. Add 1⁄4 cup water, scraping up the browned bits. Stir in the celery and carrot, then cook, stirring, until slightly softened, 3 to 5 minutes.

3. Stir in the miso and tomato paste, then cook, stirring constantly, until well-browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in 1⁄4 cup water, scraping up the browned bits. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick and pasty. While stirring, add the wine, followed by 41⁄4 cups water. Add the soy sauce, peppercorns, bay, thyme and dried shiitakes (if using). Bring to a simmer over medium-high, then reduce to medium-low and cook, uncovered and stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes.

4. Set a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl, then strain the gravy, pressing on the solids with a spatula to extract as much liquid as possible; discard the solids. You should have about 21⁄2 cups; if you have more, return the gravy to the saucepan, bring to a simmer over medium and cook, stirring often, until reduced to 21⁄2 cups. Taste and season with salt and pepper.


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PHOTO CREDITS: CHRISTOPHER KIMBALL’S MILK STREET