Tuesday, November 12, 2013

New & Improved Chicken Gravy on Mashed Potatoes

Good evening everyone! One of my all-time favorite winter/fall dishes is chicken gravy on biscuits or mashed potatoes. It's one of the simplest, most flavorful dishes you can cook up to really fill up the family on a cool evening while not spending all day in the kitchen. A couple of years ago, I made up my own recipe for chicken gravy and it worked out nicely.

The one downside to these types of dishes, and really this applies to any slow cooker recipe in general, is that the fat of the meat you're using can infiltrate the dish and sabotage the healthy qualities of your dish. This was true of my original recipe as well. The fat from the chicken dissolved right into the gravy, lowering the overall quality of the dish and making it a bit unsightly too.

So, I set out to take my original recipe and fix the fat problem. How exactly do you rid the grease and fat from the gravy, without losing the flavor? It's not a matter of simply cutting off the skin and fat from the chicken before cooking - you'll dry out the meat and the flavor will be underwhelming (we want the fat to add flavor while we're cooking, but we don't want to eat it when it's done...yes, we're picky).

After some brainstorming, I came up with a two part system that actually improves on the final flavor of the dish. Interested? Then let's get cooking!

The Recipe: New & Improved Chicken Gravy
This is an Out of the Culinary Original Recipe!

What You'll Need:

1 Whole Chicken (Neck & Giblets removed - weight determined by the size of crowd you're feeding)
4 Cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
1 Small onion (Diced)
1 Bag Frozen Mixed Vegetables (Fresh are preferred, but we're not really in the season for good fresh veggies)

Begin by prying the skin up from the chicken to form 'pockets' between the meat and skin. Using your choice of herbs and/or spices, rub these pockets with seasoning until both the top and bottom of the bird are covered. (I used thyme and lemon pepper).

Add about 1/4 to 1/2 cup of chicken broth into a large slow cooker and place the chicken inside. Cover and cook on high for 3 to 5 hours.

After the chicken has cooked for most of the day, use a pair of tongs and pull off the skin (it should pop off quite easily - if it's still rubbery, give the chicken another hour to cook). Discard the skin.

Use the tongs to pluck the meat from the bones of the chicken, transfer the meat to a large bowl, and the bones and other undesirable pieces (fat, skin remnants) should be transferred to another bowl. Continue until you've removed all of the meat from the chicken, making sure to discard the bones when finished.

Carefully (use oven mitts or a kitchen towel) remove the crock pot bowl (if removable, if not, carry the entire pot) and pour the liquid through a strainer and down the drain. (The strainer catches any bones or other debris that has settled to the bottom during cooking). I know this is recipe blasphemy for many chefs, but my entire premise is to remove the fat from the meat - and the fat is currently living in that broth. By discarding it, we cut out all of the fat.

Return the crock pot bowl to the crock pot and wipe it clean with a lightly damp paper towel. Return the chicken to the crock pot and add 2 cups of low sodium chicken broth. Set on low and cover.

Next, add a drizzle of vegetable oil to a 12 inch non stick skillet over medium high heat and cook the onion until it becomes translucent. Add the frozen veggies to the skillet and cook them for 3 to 5 minutes, or until they begin to thaw.

Finally, add 1/2 cup of the chicken broth to the skillet and cover, allowing the veggies to lightly simmer until cooked through. This should take an additional 5 to 10 minutes.

Once cooked through, carefully transfer the veggies and broth to the crock pot with the chicken. Stir well to incorporate and increase the heat to high. Allow the contents to cook for an additional 1 to 3 hours. Right before serving, stir in flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the mixture reaches the desired thickness. I like a thick gravy, so I used 4 tablespoons of flour, but your results will likely vary.

Serve the gravy over mashed potatoes or biscuits and enjoy!

The Results:

Just like our first foray into chicken gravy, the end result of this dish was delightfully savory and full of great natural flavors. This dish, however, seemed brighter and more fresh than the first version. I cannot attribute this purely to the removal of (most) of the fat, as different veggies or a better quality chicken could have helped this as well. It certainly didn't hurt things by removing the excess fat and cooking in this two stage process. In fact, I may use this two stage method whenever possible when cooking with a slow cooker - it seemed to clean up the flavors and helped greatly in reducing the fat within the dish.

If you're looking for a flavorful and filling dish for these cold fall nights, this chicken gravy recipe certainly hits the spot!

That's all we have for you this evening. We're back tomorrow night with a brand new recipe. Until then,


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