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August 27, 2007

Sauce or Gravy? The Answer is Stir!


One of the questions that has plagued mankind since it first learned to walk upright is this – what is the difference between sauce and gravy?


Some have opined that gravy is a sauce made from the pan drippings of meat. Others insist that you will know only when mankind has developed a precise taxonomy for food on the same lines of how life itself is categorized.


The real answer is that it makes no difference, as long as the end product is enhanced meat.


Typically, your target meat is one that is a little drier, less tender. But our quarry here is no typical gravy, but one that takes on a life of its own. Meat with a reputation for more tenderness, like pork tenderloin, is as appropriate here as any.


Smear your tenderloin with a mix of olive oil and pressed garlic, and then roast it on high heat (400 degrees) for 15-20 minutes. Once removed from heat, it will continue to cook. Tip the pan at an angle, and the departing juices will pool in a place convenient for later use.


Cut two Roma tomatoes into large pieces, remove the seeds, and set aside.


Do the same to a large jalapeno pepper and a quarter onion, but don’t set aside. Instead, sauté them until the onion is soft and translucent.


With the heat still on, scoop a tablespoon of pan drippings from the gutter at the bottom of your tenderloin pan, and add to the pan.


The natural next step, in creating any gravy, is to add either meat broth or water. Be natural, as often as possible. Add enough water to cover everything, stir and heat to a simmer.


Here comes a time for special attention. You will add flour to thicken it up, as you would with any gravy. Stir vigorously to prevent the flour from lumping together in the simmering liquid. Once this is accomplished, sprinkle a teaspoon or two of cumin into the mix, and stir constantly.


Finally, dump in your tomato chunks, and continue stirring as they break down and release their tomato-y goodness. Your gravy was rapidly approaching a desired thickness. It will soon revert again to a highly watery form before again thickening. It is like the bland calm before a storm of tastiness.


Perhaps now the secret of gravy is becoming clear. Stir, stir and stir some more. You are trying to prevent things from pooling together. Evenness and consistency should be your watchwords.


Once you have stirred and once your gravy has achieved a desired viscosity, salt and pepper according to taste (or, in the case of salt, doctor’s prescription), turn off the heat.


By now, your pork tenderloin is perhaps feeling unappreciated and abandoned. Pay it some attention, with a fork and sharp knife.


Lay your sliced pork on a bed of warm rice, either brown or white will do. And, finally, put it to bed by covering it in a blanket of the hot pepper gravy.


© 2007 North Star Writers Group. May not be republished without permission.


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