Originally posted by Bushie
VibrationGuy, you obviously have had some culinary training. Please let me ask a couple of questions.
1) I don't bother separating the grease from the drippings anymore, and I haven't experienced negative results. What is the benefit of doing that in terms of the finished gravy?
2) I'm not familiar with the "mounting" technique (biting my lip here, trying not to think of the obvious mental picture...) What does that do?
I appreciate any info you can share.
The reason I separate the drippings is so that I can use the fat to make roux, and not risk the flour seizing up in nasty lumps due to moisture. You could just cook the water out of the drippings, but this runs the risk of burning the flavor-y bits. Also, given my proclivity towards meat with large volumes of surface fat and excessive marbling, the drippings I get from a roast can be extremely fatty - upwards of 30% most times. Thus, there's usually more fat than I need for the gravy. (Don't throw it out; it's nice to saute potatoes in).
As for mounting, it's a clever trick of emulsifiers. Butter is rich in compounds known as phospholipids (lecithin would be one specific phospholipids). Thanks to their structure, phospholipids like to help oil and water hang out together without separating. So, whisking a few cold chunks of butter into a hot sauce or gravy makes it hold the fat without a dreaded oily sheen appearing on the top, makes the sauce smoother, and adds that nearly-unctuous texture that I crave. I'd say for huge cast-iron chicken fryer full of turkey gravy, I'd use about 3 oz. of butter (3/4 of a stick) cut into six pieces, added one at a time, and for two cups of gravy, probably 2 T., as three hunks.
And no, I haven't had culinary training, per se; I grew up around big eaters and great cooks, in a culture of good food (I've never, for example, tasted Hamburger Helper, and Kool-Aid *never* entered our house). Both of my parents are scratch cooks, my maternal grandmother is a fantastic baker, her husband is a PhD in Food Science and a serious food geek as well, and my late Great-Aunt was the child of Greek restauranteurs, and a passionate foodie herself.
On the subject of gravy being a dying art, I agree wholeheartedly. It's a darned shame, too. It's not rocket science to make gravy.
I remember a Christmas a few years ago at Grandmother's house. Grandmother was relaxing, the baking done, the table set. Dave (her husband) was getting things ready to go on the table, and decided he'd be in charge of the gravy making. Mother, realizing that Dave was going to use slurry rather than roux (the one exception to her slurry fetish is her turkey gravy, based on Grandmother's recipe). We both knew this was Just Not Right (mom's logic, btw, is that turkey isn't "rich" enough on its own for optimum gravy, but she refuses to carry this logic forward and recognize the much leaner beef and pork now being produced), so as Dave turned his attention to other matters, mom distracted him as I tossed in chunks of butter and whisked everything to glossy perfection. When Grandmother complimented Dave on the "nice, rich" gravy, Mom and I couldn't keep from howling. Aaah, a family brought together by fat.