Savory Beef Stew with Mustard and Brandy

I have to say that in general, beef stew is one of those dishes I had always been ‘meh’ about. I never disliked it, but I can’t say I ever craved it either. I think I probably associate it with the gross canned stuff that everybody ate in college. You know, that brownish sludge with chunks of ‘beef’ and … Read more

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy with Calvados (Apple Brandy)

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy with Calvados (Apple Brandy)

For the last few years, my Thanksgiving philosophy has been “Everything that CAN be made ahead SHALL be made ahead”. I developed this philosophy (religion?) several years ago when Matt and I decided to make Thanksgiving for 13 people in our teeny, tiny Brooklyn kitchen. Our oven could barely fit a normal-sized turkey, let alone anything else at the same time.  We made just about everything we could possibly make days ahead and heated things up while the turkey was resting.

Now we have a normal (ginormous, for us) kitchen, but the make-ahead strategy is still as useful as ever. That is what I love about this gravy (besides its heavenly flavor). I don’t know about you, but for me, the 10 minutes before serving Thanksgiving dinner are the most chaotic and I really don’t want to be measuring flour and reducing stock right at the last minute.

That’s why I really like this method. A few days ahead (or even a week or two), I make stock and from that stock, I make the gravy “base”. Then on Thanksgiving day, I reheat it (the longer it simmers, the better) and when the turkey’s done, I deglaze the roasting pan with some wine and add it to the already simmering gravy. Done! So much easier, seriously.

This gravy has a delicious touch of apple-y sweetness from the Calvados and apple cider. You could substitute Apple Jack, which is a really nice American equivalent and is a lot more affordable. I adapted a Barefoot Contessa recipe which has finely chopped onions in the base. Obviously this will give the gravy some texture so if you like it perfectly smooth, just use an immersion blender (or a regular blender) to puree it.

Read more