Let’s skip the normal politics and the standard “here’s what I’m thankful for” columns. Instead, every year I prefer to share a recipe or two. In my new book, “Before You Wake,” the last third of the book is recipes. I believe there is something soul nourishing about people coming together around a table to break bread. We should not limit it to the holidays, but we should all do more of it. A shared meal that someone takes time to cook seems to be a lost art. We need more of it.
In that spirit, here are some recipes to consider.
First, perfect your gravy. The key is to put flour in with butter. If you put it in with a non-fat, the flour will get lumpy. Put it with a fat and it will not get lumpy. So go cut up a sweet onion and put it in a 10 inch skillet with a stick of butter. Cook it for a good 30 minutes over medium heat until browned.
You could stop here and put this in the fridge until you need it. If you do, just bring it back to bubbling over medium heat. Otherwise, add a quarter cup of flour and whisk for three minutes. Then pour in up to 4 cups of heated stock, but not less than two cups. Use drippings and stock together to get at least 2 cups of liquid. Stir this for five minutes, adding a teaspoon each of salt and pepper to season. Then add one tablespoon of heavy cream before serving. You can also add a tablespoon of cognac if you want.
Then there is pie. I have a special love for a special chocolate pie. It uses raw eggs and I am forever in the debt of Ree Drummond, the Pioneer Woman, for this recipe. Bake a deep dish pie crust. In a small bowl, melt in the microwave four ounces of unsweetened baking chocolate until it can be stirred. Then set aside to cool.
In a large bowl or stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat two sticks of salted butter and 1.5 cups of sugar till fluffy. Drizzle in the melted chocolate and add a teaspoon of vanilla. Turn the mixer on medium speed and add four raw eggs, mixing for five minutes between each egg. Pour into the pie shell and put in the fridge for at least two hours. Serve with whipped cream on top.
And we should not forget the gumbo. Finely chop an onion, a bell pepper, and three celery stalks. Finely slice up an andouille sausage and cut four raw chicken breasts into small pieces. Add 1.5 cups of flour to 1 cup of vegetable oil in a seven quart Dutch oven placed over medium heat. Whisk constantly for 30 minutes until the roux is the color of an old penny.
Stirring throughout the additions, add the vegetables. Add 1 tablespoon of Cajun spices, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1.5 teaspoons black pepper, 1 teaspoon of thyme, and a quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Add the sausage and stir until it is rendering fat. Add the chicken. Add 64 ounces of chicken stock and two bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to low and simmer, covered, for an hour. Heat some pre-chopped, frozen okra in a skillet until the seeds are popping and add it to the gumbo after that hour. Serve over rice.
The holidays should be about memory building and the foods are just the seasoning for those memories. Enjoy your family this holiday season.
Erick Erickson is a Fox News contributor and radio talk show host in Atlanta.