Gravy and Colcannon

I wrote up these little babes & took photos of them for this Guardian article but they got cut (society isn’t ready for five paragraphs on gravy! Or maybe it was the mega-fluorescent photos I took of it.). Not to worry, everything lives forever on the internet. Enjoy!

Also–often people sign up to get posts on this blog in their email. I’m thankful for this but I seem to never really post on this blog, sadly. Much more informative are our various social media pages—be sure to check out Instagram & Facebook & Twitter, too, for the full Lagusta’s Luscious scoop.

OK let’s cook.

Oh—both of these recipes are adapted from Bloodroot.

Colcannon (Irish mashed potatoes with cabbage and kale)

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If you secretly wish mashed potatoes could be pretty much the entirety of what you eat on Thanksgiving, Colcannon is the answer to the question you hadn’t dared ask. Mashed potatoes are fortified with just enough other sustenance to qualify as a main dish in this Irish wintertime staple. It’s also ridiculously fast and easy, and is adaptable to whatever looks good at the market: the kale can be substituted for other greens, though the heartiness of kale is a nice foil to the creaminess of the potatoes.

Makes 4-6 servings.

2 pounds floury potatoes (russets work perfectly), about 7 potatoes

vegetable stock, optional

2-4 tablespoons olive oil, or to taste

1 cup full-fat coconut milk

Sea salt to taste

Fresh pepper to taste

2 cups cabbage, finely shredded

2 cups kale, finely shredded

  1. Peel any blemishes from potatoes but otherwise don’t worry about peeling. Boil in salted water (or vegetable stock) just to cover until a thin-bladed knife inserted into the center of a potato meets no resistance, about 15 minutes. Drain, reserving potato water.
  2. Mash potatoes with a potato masher, adding olive oil, coconut milk, ½ cup of the reserved potato water, and salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.
  3. Barely cover cabbage and kale with remaining reserved potato water (adding more water if necessary) and cook until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Turn drained cabbage and kale into a frying pan and fry with a little olive oil until lightly browned. Stir into mashed potatoes.
  5. Leftover Colcannon can be reheated in a 350°F oven.

 

Gravy 

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Instead of a strict gravy recipe, here are some guidelines for how to conceptualize and improvise a vegetarian gravy almost completely with ingredients already in your refrigerator. These guidelines make a lot of gravy—about five cups, which freezes well.

Begin with a strong vegetable base. Two onions, chopped, a pound or so of shiitake or cremini mushrooms (a mix is nice too), diced, works well. Anything in the onion family contributes to a hearty base: leeks, scallions, or shallots are great too. Fry them well in just a bit more good-quality extra virgin olive oil than you think you should use (about half a cup). When they’re just about ready toss in a lot of finely chopped garlic, 8 cloves or so? More is more in my book when it comes to garlic, but if you disagree then add less. Or, for an even warmer, richer flavor, roast a few heads of garlic and stir them in at the end of cooking.

Back to the pot: add just a little heat, to offset all that richness: stir in a shake or two of red pepper flakes, or purée a few dried, seeded, reconstituted mild chilies like ancho or guajillo, or add a little chipotle powder or even chili powder. Crush a tablespoon or so of dried herbs like basil, thyme, and/or oregano between your palms and add them. Let everything cook for a minute or two over low-medium heat, stirring often. Whisk in some flour to thicken and add body to the gravy: about half of a cup of all-purpose flour, or a gluten-free all purpose flour blend for a gluten-free gravy. Or, use a few tablespoons of cornstarch whisked with equal parts water then added to the gravy.

Now come the weird ingredients. They’re fairly optional, but the combination of all (or most) of them elevates an every day gravy to something you want to eat out of a bowl. Here we go: beer, miso, nutritional yeast, tomato paste, and soy sauce. Add a bottle of dark beer (make sure it’s vegetarian by checking lists online) to the pot and turn the heat to low. Fill up the beer bottle with water and add it too, then fill it up halfway again with water and toss that in. Add a few tablespoons of miso—a darker kind makes a more intense gravy, and a lighter kind makes a more smooth-tasting gravy. Your choice. If you have a little tomato paste hanging around, two tablespoons or so, stir that in too.

A small shower (two tablespoons or so) of nutritional yeast gives the whole thing a meatiness, and some good dashes of shoyu soy sauce (gluten-free tamari if you’re going the gf route) rounds everything out. Now, just bring everything to a boil (slowly, and stir often to make sure nothing’s burning), turn to a simmer, and cook for about a half hour. Taste and keep adding salt or water or nutritional yeast or soy sauce or whatever else your heart desires until it’s at absolutely perfect. If your gravy seems too chunky, purée a cup or so of it until it’s at the desired texture.