Jamie Oliver’s Get-Ahead Gravy

I’m here to present to you a miraculous concept: you can make your gravy for Christmas a few days or even a few weeks ahead of time.  Then all you need to do is heat it up on the big day.  Gravy needs a lot of time to be truly excellent, and time is something you have much less of when you’re setting out a feast for the family.  So why not make it ahead of time?  Jamie Oliver does, and, last year, the Pie and I tried it for the first time, to fantastic results.

First, preheat your oven to about 400°F and get out your big turkey roasting pan.

Get Ahead Gravy

Roughly chop up 2 carrots, 2 celery stalks, and quarter 2 onions. Don’t even worry too much about the onion paper. That stuff will just make the gravy darker. Huck all those in the pan.

Get Ahead Gravy

Add in as well about 5 bay leaves, 5 sage leaves, 2 sprigs of rosemary, and 2 star anise.

Get Ahead Gravy

Then you need some chicken wings, about 8 whole ones. Bash them with a rolling pin or break the bones with the back of a sharp knife to release the marrow. Add those to the pan.

Get Ahead Gravy

Slice up a few rashers of a nice bacon and add that to the mix. Sprinkle everything with salt and pepper, drizzle with olive oil, and stick it in the oven.

Get Ahead Gravy

Roast for about 1 hour, until the vegetables are tender and the meat is falling off the bone.

Get Ahead Gravy

Put the pan on the stove element on low heat and take a potato masher to the contents. Start squishing and shifting around everything in the pan. It will smell glorious, and the longer you do this the darker your gravy will be.

Get Ahead Gravy

When you get bored with that, sprinkle about 4 tablespoons flour across the mix and stir it in.

Get Ahead Gravy

Then pour about 2 litres of hot water into the mix. Raise the heat to high and bring it to a boil.

Get Ahead Gravy

Turn it down to a simmer and let that go for about 25 minutes. Continue to mash that around with your masher.

Get Ahead Gravy

When it’s ready, scoop everything out into a sieve and push it through to get all the gravy goodness.

Get Ahead Gravy

Let your gravy cool to room temperature, then chuck it into the freezer.

Get Ahead Gravy

When you want to use it, simply defrost it and add it to the other juices from your roasted turkey, like an instant boost!

Get Ahead Gravy

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Spinach and Mushroom Stuffing

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 25

We made this for our Canadian Thanksgiving celebrations, but maybe the next time you cook up a turkey (say, for American Thanksgiving, or Christmas, or various other turkey-related feast days), you could try this stuff(ing) out.  You can make it all the day before and chuck it together at the last minute, which is awesome for big dinners.  It’s also the kind of stuffing that doesn’t actually go into the bird, so you can feed it to vegetarians, too!

Start with your bread.  You can buy bags of pre-cut, pre-toasted bread chunks specifically for making stuffing, but I kind of like to make them myself, because I can decide what kind of bread I’m going to use in my stuffing.  Here I used a loaf of Italian sourdough.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 1

I ripped each slice up into bite-sized chunks and spread them out across two baking sheets.  Shove them in your oven and bake them at 350°F until they’re dried out and lightly toasted, about 12 minutes.  Make sure to stir them occasionally.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 2

Dice up about a pound of fresh mushrooms.  The wilder the better.  Unfortunately all we had around were some oyster and regular white mushrooms, but feel free to experiment.  You should have about 9 cups diced mushrooms when you’re done.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 8

Chop up as well 2 large onions, so you’re left with about 3 cups chopped onions in total.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 7

And while you’re at it, go to town on 4-5 stalks celery, ending up with about 2 cups chopped celery in total.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 6

Find yourself some herbs.  These were all growing in our fall garden: sage, parsley, and thyme.  I thought about adding some rosemary to add to the “Scarborough Fair”-ness of the whole thing but managed to restrain myself.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 4

Chop up a couple bunches of each.  You can never have too many fresh herbs in your stuffing, so just go with what feels right.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 9

Dump 1/4 cup of butter and a tablespoon or so of olive oil in a large skillet and melt over medium heat.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 10

Plop in your mushrooms and sprinkle them lightly with salt and pepper.  Sauté those suckers until they’re all squishy and starting to brown, about 8 minutes.  Dump them in a large bowl for now.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 12

Slide another 1/2 cup butter into that skillet and let that melt.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 14

Add in your onions and celery and cook, stirring, until the veggies are tender, probably 12 minutes or so.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 15

Sprinkle in your herbs and cook for another minute.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 16

Then plop in a whole package (5oz) fresh baby spinach.  Toss in the skillet (maybe use a lid) until the leaves are just wilted.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 17

Chuck all that stuff into the bowl with the mushrooms.  If you’re making this ahead of time, this is where you stop.  Let the stuff cool, cover it, and bung it in the fridge overnight.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 19

When you’re ready to get this on the go, preheat your oven to 350ºF and butter a large casserole dish or 9″ x 13″ baking pan.  Whisk 2 eggs and some salt and pepper in a bowl.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 20

Pour in 1 cup low sodium chicken broth (you may need more if you find it dry) and stir that around.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 21

Toss your bread bits with your vegetable mix and pour your broth/egg stuff over top, stirring to make sure it makes it all the way through.

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 23

Jam that into your baking dish and bake without covering until it’s brown and crusty on top, about an hour.  Let it stand a few minutes before serving (like, take it out when you start to carve up your bird and you’re set).

Mushroom Spinach Stuffing 26

Turkey and Leek Pie

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

While you’re spending the day prepping for your big turkey feast (or, if you celebrated yesterday, cleaning up afterwards), why don’t you consider what you can do with the leftover bits of that big bird?

I cooked this little baby up after watching a Jamie Oliver Christmas special on the plane home to Ottawa last December, and I served it to the lovely folks at our annual potluck.  It’s super easy, super tasty, and a great way to eat up all that leftover turkey.  And the best part about Jamie Oliver is he’s big on improvisation.  If you watch the videos for his recipes they never end up matching the recipes themselves, and that adds immensely to his charm.

Make sure you have a good package of unthawed frozen puff pastry lying around. I get the President’s Choice brand stuff and it comes in two blocks, which is perfect for our purposes here.

Then you’ll need 2kg leeks.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Leeks are super dirty. My mother told me that as the leeks grow they bury the stems in more dirt in order to keep that stem as pale and tender as possible.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

This means you’ll need to clean them well. I find the easiest way to do so is to cut off the scraggly top ends and then slice the whole thing in half lengthwise. Pop those babies in a sink full of water and swish away until all the dirt is gone. Then give them a good shake to drain out the excess water.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Now, chop up those leeks. Make the pale ends a bit chunkier, but slice the tougher green ends up really thin.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Now, take a large, fat saucepan with a lid and chuck in the leaves of about half a bunch of fresh thyme.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Chop up a couple of slices of nice bacon, add a glug or two of olive oil, and cook that for a wee bit on high to medium-high.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Pour in your chopped leeks and let them cook for about three minutes on high.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Then add in some salt and pepper, pop the lid on, and turn the heat down to medium. Let that cook for about thirty minutes, stirring every 5-10, to make sure nothing sticks.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

While that’s on the go, chop up your leftover turkey. You’ll need about 800g grams of turkey, chopped or torn into big chunks. Light meat, dark meat, whatever floats your boat. I like half and half, because the dark stuff has more flavour. If you have leftover stuffing it will make a great contribution as well. Huck that into your leek pot when the leeks are done.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Sprinkle on 2 tablespoons flour and stir that to fully combine it with the leeks and turkey.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Then add in 2 pints of stock — turkey, chicken, vegetable, mushroom, whatever you want.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

And 2 heaping tablespoons crème fraîche or sour cream (or even plain greek yogurt if that’s what you have).

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Give that a good stir and bring it back to a boil for a minute. Add more salt and pepper to taste if you like, then turn off the heat.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Pour your leek mixture through a sieve into a pot to get some lovely gravy out of this. Removing the gravy now will also make sure your pie doesn’t end up soggy, and if you drain it directly into a pot then you can easily heat it up before you serve it.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Preheat your oven to 375°F and lay your leek mixture out in a buttered 9″ x 13″ baking dish.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Dust a work surface with flour and roll out a segment of pastry so that it is a few inches larger than your pan size on all sides. If you just have one piece of pastry, then roll it out so it’s double the pan size (you will then fold one side over the other).

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Crumble some chestnuts and fresh sage leaves over the pastry (or half the pastry if you’re folding).

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Fold the other half on top or roll out the other piece and place it on top of the first and press down a bit to seal the chestnuts and sage inside.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Lay the pastry across your pan and tuck the ends in underneath the mixture on all the sides.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

With a sharp knife score the whole pastry surface diagonally.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

If you wish you can put an egg wash on at this point by beating an egg, adding a pinch of salt, and brushing that over the top of the pastry, but I didn’t bother. Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until your pastry is puffy and golden brown. Serve warm with the reheated gravy. It is so excellent.

Turkey Leek and Bacon Pie

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy turkey day!  In Ottawa today it is absolutely beautiful, so I hope your day is going as well as mine is.

Centrepiece

And guess who arrived yesterday morning?

Izod's Birthday 35

This is Izod, only a week behind schedule.  Everyone is well and happy, which is another thing to be thankful for.  Enjoy your weekend!

Cocktail Sammiches with Parsley Butter

Happy Birthday Matt!

Cocktail Sammiches 8

I feel like the week before Thanksgiving everyone goes crazy trying to entertain anyone who won’t be eating with them on the Sunday/Monday holiday.  Why not take some of the load off the entertainer and bring these elegant little sandwiches with you to your next gathering?  Plus these are all kinds of fancy with very little effort required.  It’s all in the artistic garnish, trust me.

Cocktail Sammiches 12

Start with 1/2 cup softened butter.

Cocktail Sammiches 1

Season that pat o’buttery goodness with all the salt and pepper your little heart desires.  To be extra fancy we used a special pepper Teedz brought back from Cambodia.  OooooooOOOOH … (I would be more pretentious if I could, but there’s only so much I can do).

Cocktail Sammiches 2

Chop up 1/4 to 1/2 cup fresh flat-leaved parsley and huck that over the butter.

Cocktail Sammiches 3

Give that a grand good stirring. Now, take a baguette and slice it in half along its length (you know, like you were making a sandwich).

Cocktail Sammiches 4

Smear both cut sides with all that glorious butter.

Cocktail Sammiches 5

On the bottom cut side, layer on 1lb/500g of deli sliced roast beef (or 1/2lb if you are feeling health conscious but I think the sheer amount of meat on these puppies is part of their charm).

Cocktail Sammiches 6

Plop the top on and start slicing up your baguette into 1 1/2″ segments.  Pop those onto a nice plate.  Like one with a giant WHALE on it.  That would be ideal.  If you don’t have a whale plate, maybe you should get one.  I mean, really.  Who doesn’t have a whale plate?

Cocktail Sammiches 7

I also did another baguette, but this one was filled with turkey and it was AWESOME.

Cocktail Sammiches 11

Garnish your plates with some artfully arranged fresh parsley and you’re good to go.  Both plates disappeared within two hours at our little shindig, so I guarantee they will please any palette!

Cocktail Sammiches 13

Turkey Lasagna

Turkey Lasagna

We’ve made quite a few lasagna dishes here at Ali Does It.  Some of them have been pretty fancy, while others were more simple.  Sometimes it’s the simplest things that are the best, as you know.  But sometimes a teensy tweak of those simplest things makes them even better.  This particular lasagna dish is pretty classic, as things go, but I used ground turkey instead of beef for a bit of a lighter meal, and then added eggplant to the mix because I remembered the richness of it in the lasagna I made with béchamel.

This recipe makes enough for two small (7″ x 10″) dishes, and freezes really well.

Dice up an onion or two and sauté the pieces with a bit of olive oil and some minced garlic in a large saucepan until tender and translucent, a few minutes.

Turkey Lasagna

Chuck in a package of ground turkey, and stir it around until it’s all broken up and the pieces are no longer pink.

Turkey Lasagna

Chop up a medium-sized eggplant, two red peppers, and a handful of mushrooms and add those to the mix.

Turkey Lasagna

Add in two cans tomato sauce and simmer that for a few minutes.  If you’re planning to cook this right away, then keep it warm, but if you’re planning to freeze the lasagna then feel free to let it cool.

Turkey Lasagna

In a bowl, mix together two tubs ricotta cheese with two cups chopped spinach (fresh or frozen, your choice).

Turkey Lasagna

Now you can put it all together.  Start with your oven-ready lasagna noodles.  Stick them raw into your dish to line the bottom. Scoop on a generous amount of your tomato/turkey sauce and smooth it down.

Turkey Lasagna

Add another layer of noodles, then a heap (half, if you’re making two lasagnas) of ricotta mixture.  Smooth that down.

Turkey Lasagna

More noodles, and you’re probably reaching the top of your container right about now.  Scoop on a final layer of tomato/turkey sauce and then sprinkle the top with a generous layer of grated mozzarella cheese.

Turkey Lasagna

Let the dish cool completely before freezing, or pop it in the oven right away.

You can bake this, uncovered, from frozen at 400°F for 30-40 minutes, or until the top is bubbly and the cheese is starting to brown.

Here are some of the other Ali Does It lasagna dishes for your review:

Beef Lasagna with Eggplant and Béchamel

Egg Won Ton Lasagna

Roasted Vegetable and Tofu Lasagna

Turkey Casserole with Broccoli and Cheese

Today is an auspicious day: my paternal grandmother turns ONE HUNDRED AND ONE.

I know, right?  She was born in 1909Happy Birthday Grandma!

Because she’s a hundred and one she’s not really up-to-date on the how-tos of internet surfing, but I figured it’s the thought that counts.  I’ll probably bake her a cake too.

Today’s post is about leftovers, which are rather inauspicious, but it’s in the spirit of the sort of thing my dad remembers his mother making for him when he was younger.

Casserole.  I’m not a huge fan of casseroles.  Believe it or not I’m not a huge fan of turkey, either.  I know, it’s shocking.  It’s always a struggle for me to figure out what to do with my leftovers once I’ve finished a major turkey holiday such as Thanksgiving or Christmas or Easter.  Sure, there’s soup, but aside from the Pie’s favourite Hot Turkey Sandwiches (*shudder*), what else are you going to do?  Turkey salad, turkey sandwiches, cold turkey … and turkey casserole.  But this one I actually like.  I pulled it off the internet a few years ago and the ubiquitous casserole dish finds its way into my refrigerator like clockwork when there’s turkey around.  The original recipe calls for asparagus, but I use broccoli because asparagus is out of season.

Get your mise en place ready, because all the steps kind of follow each other really quickly so it’s good to be prepared ahead of time.First, chop up and gently steam about 2 cups broccoli.

Chop up a bunch of green onions (I used three green onions and a shallot) and a red pepper and set all your vegetables aside.

Cook one cup penne or similar pasta according to package instructions.  Drain and set aside.

Grate one cup cheddar cheese.

Have your garlic-in-a-jar at the ready.

Have also ready the following:

6 tablespoons flour.

1 1/2 cups chicken broth.

3 cups cooked diced turkey.

1 cup soft bread crumbs.

1 tbsp melted butter, cooled.

Also you will need 2 cups milk, but I don’t have a photo of that because the chicken broth was in my only remaining measuring cup.

Preheat your oven to 350°F and grease a 9″ x 13″ glass baking dish.

In a large saucepan on medium-low, melt 6 tablespoons butter (that’s slightly less than half a cup).

Add the red pepper and sauté until tender. 

Add 2 teaspoons garlic and the onions and cook for a further minute.

Stir in the flour until well blended.It should look all mushy.

Stir in chicken broth, cooking until thickened.

Stir in milk and cook, stirring, until thickened and hot.

Add in salt and pepper to taste, together with any herbs of your choosing, such as oregano or basil, then add the broccoli and the turkey.  Heat through.

Stir in the cheese and cook until it’s all melted in. 

Stir in the cooked drained pasta.

Pour it all into a baking dish.

Mix your melted butter with your bread crumbs.

Sprinkle that over top.

Bake for about 30-35 minutes until hot and bubbly. 

Let it sit for about 5 minutes before serving.

You can keep leftovers covered in the fridge for a couple days, too.