Category Archives: Sauce and Gravy

Enchilada Sauce.

I originally posted this recipe back in 2011 here. Today I reinvented it as our go to enchilada sauce. Buying the sauce at the store seems such a waste given all of the added ingredients, preservatives, fillers, etc. Even the organic sauce we had changed to over a year ago contains canola oil. This sauce freezes well so large batches can be made at one time.

Enchilada Sauce.


5 dried ancho peppers (be sure to get air dried that do not have added oils or to dry them at home)

1 quart of homemade chicken stock (I have also used smoked chicken stock here)

24 oz crushed or diced tomatoes (be sure to purchase pure tomatoes, generally these will be Italian as most American tomatoes have citric acid — generally corn — added. Also you may sub fresh, roast and food mill into the mixture to add a deeper flavor)

1 tablespoon double concentrate tomato paste (be sure to purchase pure tomato paste with no additives, or use homemade)

1 medium onion, chopped

1 tablespoon  ground cumin

1 tablespoon heaping Mexican oregano (whole, dried, then crushed)

6 large cloves of garlic, roughly chopped

1 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1  heaping teaspoon Real Salt (I used fine)

dash (1/2 of 1/8 of a teaspoon) of baking soda (to remove a little of the bitter from the peppers)


The first thing you need to do is rehydrate the chiles. Start your chicken broth boiling in a medium pot. Cut the peppers in half and remove the stem, seeds and ribs. Anything you leave behind will impart heat into your sauce, so keep that in mind (use gloves if you are not used to handling hot peppers). Heat a dry sauté pan or skillet over medium heat and place chiles in for 5-10 seconds on each side. Use a flipper to push them down if they will not behave. Do not brown or burn the chiles, just heat them to get their oils active.

Place the warmed chiles in the boiling broth. Allow to boil for about 30 seconds and remove from heat. Be careful not breathe in the pepper too much, it will make you cough! Allow to sit for 20 minutes so the peppers can steep.

Add remaining ingredients to pot and stir to combine. Heat to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 1 hour with an off center lid on it. Remember, tomato makes a big mess if it boils without being covered.

Remove pot from heat and, using an immersion blender, blend the pepper mixture smooth. Taste mixture and adjust salt if needed. Place pot (with off center lid) back on heat and simmer for an additional hour.

Cool and freeze into containers, store in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to a week or enjoy immediately.


1 Comment

Filed under Condiments and Seasonings, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Mexican Inspired, Sauce and Gravy

Hedgehog Mushroom Cream Sauce.

This weekend at the farmer’s market (first of the season!) I got some hedgehog mushrooms. I had never used them before, but the hubs said they reminded him of chanterelles and that I should make sauce for the chicken I was roasting on Sunday. I figured that sounded like as good an idea as any and I will tell you, we were not let down. It was absolutely fantastic. It was cream and lovely, but also earthy and deep.

Hedgehog Mushroom Cream Sauce.


6 oz hedgehog mushrooms, sliced

2 oz crimini or button mushrooms, sliced

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 T unsalted butter

3 T unsalted butter

4 T flour

2 C milk (I used 1%)

1/2 t dried thyme, crushed

1-2 cloves of garlic, minced

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 t fresh cracked black pepper

pinch of cayenne or smoked paprika (optional)


Heat medium skillet over medium heat. Add 1 T butter, mushrooms and onions. Sauté until soft about 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30 seconds more. Remove mushroom mixture from pan and set aside. Add 3 T butter to pan and melt. Add flour and mix to combine, stirring constantly to cook the flour but not burn it. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add milk with a whisk, 1/2 cup at a time. Mix until well combined. Increase heat to medium high until mixture boils then reduce heat down to medium-low and add mushroom mixture and spices. Cook, stirring frequently for about 7-10 minutes, until the sauce thickens and is ready to eat. Remove from heat and cover if your main dish is not quite ready.

We enjoyed this atop roast chicken and rice, alongside fresh kale salad.


Leave a comment

Filed under Sauce and Gravy

BBQ Salad Dressing.

We just love salad in our house. We have weeks where we will eat salad three or four nights. Every single one of them is different, though they usually include greens, meat or egg, lots of veggies and homemade croutons. They all also contain a homemade dressing. I am not in the habit of writing the dressing mix down or getting it on the blog because it changes every time I make it, but this last one was something special. Special enough to share for your noshing pleasure too!

BBQ Salad Dressing. This makes enough for a large salad for two people.


1-2 T of your favorite BBQ sauce

1 t apple cider vinegar

1 t olive oil

a pinch of kosher salt

a pinch of fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 t honey or agave

water if it is too thick (I used about 1 t)

***the amounts of each of these may vary based on the BBQ sauce you choose. If the sauce is really vinegary, you will want to adjust the vinegar addition down. The same can be said for the honey and pepper. Add in small amounts and taste often!


Combine with a fork until oil is completely mixed in.



Filed under Condiments and Seasonings, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Salad, Sauce and Gravy

A Garden Sleeper: The Tomatillo and some Salsa.

For two years I have tried to grow tomatillos and for two years I have failed (or so I thought). They take up a lot of space in the garden and never seem to ripen on time. So this season, the end of year two, I am cleaning out garden beds to make way for cover crops and winter veggies and I rip out the first of two tomatillo plants.

Annoyed I am thinking about how I am not going to plant tomatillos next year. All I want is a little green salsa, that is all. And I toss the gigantic plant to the side and look down into the bed and see two fully formed, ripe and ready to use tomatillos. What?!? So I start investigating the plant and there are more, MORE! I was so excited I ran inside and woke up the hubs, who was trying to sleep past 8 (which is tough to do when you live with me), I shove handfuls of fully ripe, ready-to-use tomatillos in his face, exclaimed LOOK! and ran out to check the other plant straight away. In all, I ended up with a mere 16 ounces, but that is 16 ounces I did not know even existed! That is 16 ounces that I used to make this lovely salsa.

Easy Tomatillo Salsa.


1 lb tomatillos

1 small onion, rough chopped

3 T cilantro

juice of 1/2 lime

1 jalapeño

1/4 t sugar

1/4 t kosher salt

Peel and wash the tomatillos. Seed the jalapeño if you want to control the heat of the final product and rough chop it. Put all ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the mixture is the texture you are looking for. Serve with your favorite tortilla chips or as a topping for any Mexican style dinner.


Leave a comment

Filed under Appetizer, Condiments and Seasonings, Dairy Free, Edible Plants, From the Garden, Garden, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Midwest Inspired, Sauce and Gravy, Snacks

Quick Huckleberry Sauce.

I am really not one for maple syrup. The maple flavor is something that I just cannot get the taste buds around. It is such an aversion that I cannot eat maple bacon or even pecans, which taste like maple to me. It is such a beautiful substance, something so pure and natural. It is a great sweetener, topping, a tasty treat. It is something I just cannot enjoy. So I have started to experiment with fruit sauces as possible toppings for things like pancakes and waffles. Recently I made this wonderful huckleberry sauce for my favorite buttermilk pancakes.


1 C huckleberries, fresh or frozen

1/4 C water

1/4 C sugar

juice of 1/2 of a small orange

1 T arrowroot powder

Combine huckleberries, water, sugar, and juice in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil and cook for 3 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Add arrowroot powder and stir until all of the powder is dissolved. Serve over your favorite delicious breakfast bread or ice cream!


1 Comment

Filed under Breakfast, Dairy Free, Dessert, Fast & Easy, Fruit, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Sauce and Gravy, Vegan, Vegetarian

Pork Sausage Gravy.

Anyone who has read much of anything on my blog knows one thing: the hubs likes gravy. I might have said this before, so if I did you can skip ahead, but gravy is the one single item I have made tens of dozens of times. I have made it in every form and flavor you can think of and I have strived for perfection. In my little mind the sign of a truly dedicated cook is being able to produce a perfect gravy without much thought. Now, this is of course a subjective thought and I am sure it is born of the fact that it is the single most requested food item in my house.

I have spent the better part of the last six years making gravy. Lumpy gravy, soupy gravy, thinner than water gravy, perfectly thick gravy, too thick gravy, smooth silky gravy, and the list goes on. But in the last two years I have developed a consistently good, thick, creamy gravy. This can be milk based or broth based, either way my process is always the same and the result is too: Good gravy!

Make gravy, lots of it, make it good and make it bad and learn from each rendition. Get angry when it sucks and rejoice when it is lovely and you get wonderful compliments from the hubs or the kids, or even the in-laws! Eventually, you will have your perfect mix, your perfect combination that makes your very own good gravy. This is mine for sausage gravy:

Pork Sausage Gravy.


1/4 C + 3 T all purpose flour

4 T unsalted butter or bacon grease

3 C milk (I use 1%)

1/2 lb bulk breakfast sausage (I use sage)

1/4 t fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 t dried thyme, crushed

***Added 1/1/12: Add 1-2 tablespoons of buttermilk to the final product to give it an umph! I wish I had thought of this little secret ingredient before!


Cook sausage in large sauce pan. Remove and set aside. Add butter to pan and melt with pork fat from the sausage over medium heat (if you cut the fat by using turkey you will need to add more butter to keep your roux moist). Add flour and mix into a smooth paste (roux). Allow the roux to cook over medium heat for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.

Increase heat to the low side of medium-high. Add one cup of milk and combine with a whisk until the roux is smooth. Whisk 1/2 cup of milk into mixture at a time and combine completely, allowing to thicken between additions. Add salt, pepper, and thyme. Allow mixture to come to a bubble and reduce heat to low. Add sausage and mix to combine. Taste and adjust seasonings if needed. Serve over biscuits, waffles, or any other item you are craving!


Leave a comment

Filed under Breakfast, Pork, Sauce and Gravy

Homemade Ketchup.

I am really starting to get into making my own sauces. I have visions of all of the – containers lining my refrigerator door being replaced with shiny mason jars. So the other day when the hubs tells me we are nearly out of ketchup I thought, why not, the Chili Sauce turned out, let’s try ketchup! And indeed, it too turned out fantastically.

I did a little research to find a recipe I though sounded good. I used one recently posted on Serious Eats: Sauced with just a couple of minor adjustments to suit my palate. I was amazed at just how tasty and ketchupy this recipe was.


2 T olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, smashed and rough chopped

1 28 oz can crushed tomato in puree

1/2 C packed brown sugar

1/4 C apple cider vinegar

2 T tomato paste

2 t kosher salt

1/2 t ground mustard

1/8 t ground cloves

1/8 t allspice

2 t red pepper flakes

1/4 t cayenne pepper

Sautee onion and oil  in 2 quart pot over medium heat for about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and cover with a slightly off-center cover. Cook for 2 hours (less is ok, I just really like to cook down sauces), stirring once in a while. Be sure to taste the mixture as it cooks adding salt if your batch of tomatoes is particularly sweet. Also, I combined all of the dry spices in a spice grinder to break them down before adding them, but you can skip this if you want.

Remove from heat and puree using an immersion blender (can use a stand blender if that is what you have).


Leave a comment

Filed under Condiments and Seasonings, Dairy Free, Gluten Free, Grain Free, Outside of the Box, Sauce and Gravy, Vegan, Vegetarian

Basic White Gravy.

This is a basic white gravy that I use as the base for any cream sauce I am going to make. It is fundamentally like a béchamel and also fundamentally different. It includes all of the same ingredients as the french sauce base, but it is a lot easier and much less time-consuming. It is also easily scalable to suit your size needs for any meal. I use this base for sausage gravy, herbed gravy for pork chops, plain pepper gravy, mushroom gravy, and on and on. This is even the same process I used for the Parsley Sauce I made for the albacore a while back, that one was just thinner as it was being applied as a sauce, not a gravy.

I have practiced this recipe many, many times. I have made lumpy sauce so many times I cannot even estimate, I have made runny sauce just as many times. It takes practice to make good sauce and gravy, but once you get it, it makes a big difference for so many meals.

This recipe is enough gravy for four people to have biscuits and gravy and probably 6-8 to have on protein as a sauce for dinner.

Basic White Gravy.


6 T butter (you can also use bacon fat, sausage drippings, duck fat, etc — I generally mix butter with the fat from whatever meat I am cooking for the meal)

1/2 C flour

2-4 C milk for gravy, 3-5 C milk for sauce

Kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste

Additional seasonings: granulated garlic or onion, dried thyme, paprika


Melt butter/fat over medium heat. Using a rubber spatula add flour a bit at a time, combining with butter to make a smooth paste, or roux. The consistency of the roux should not be dry and crumbly. You want the butter to be completely absorbed but for the flour to be smooth. Add flour just until it starts to ball up, up to 1/2 cup. And remember, if you get heavy-handed with the flour and it is too dry, add a little more butter.

Cook roux over medium heat, stirring constantly to avoid burning, for about 3-5 minutes. The roux will begin to brown as the flour cooks.

Using a whisk, add milk on cup at a time combining with the roux between additions. Make sure the roux smooths into the milk so that you do not get lumps. You should turn the burner heat up to medium-high as you do this to encourage the mixture to lightly boil and thicken. Continue adding milk as the mixture thickens, allowing it to boil and thicken between additions. Whisk nearly constantly to avoid lumping and to keep the roux mixed well with the milk. Avoid adding the milk too quickly or it will take a long time to tighten back up. Adding only one cup at a time ensures that you don’t add too much and also that you maintain a consistent thickness.

Reduce heat back to medium and add flavor by the way of salt and pepper. You can also add herbs at this time or sautéed mushrooms, cooked sausage, etc. Stir regularly to avoid burning. If the sauce is too thick you can add more milk just 1 T at a time (unless it is really thick and tight, then do 1/4 cup). Remove from heat and serve.

A note: do not add flour to the gravy once you have added milk. The flour taste will never go away if you do this. The purpose of cooking the roux before you add any milk to cook the flour and take that raw flour taste out of the dish. If you get too far into the gravy and decide you need more flour, you can make another roux in another pan and add it to the gravy, mixing to combine but this is risky because you could end up lumpy. My suggestion is to stop adding milk, remove the gravy from heat and allow it to set up, it will thicken a little.

Good Gravy!

Leave a comment

Filed under Sauce and Gravy

Grilled Albacore Tuna with Parsley Sauce.

For my birthday a while back I got a crazy cast iron contraption for the grill called a plancha with a gift card to Sur La Table from my sister-in-law. I got it for the hubs, as he is my exclusive griller, smoker, and meat preparer….once it steps out of my kitchen, it is in his realm. I like it that way, which is why I spent my present on him…it was really on me in a round-about way! Last week we tried out some Yellow Fin steaks that had been simply marinated in salt, pepper, and olive oil. They turned out great!

The nice thing about the plancha is that it does not require the use of foil or a lot of oil on the grill grates. The main struggle with seafoods and fishes on the grill is getting past the sticking and/or flaking issue. Even if you let it cook all the way before flipping you can run into trouble. But with the solid surface of the plancha and the wonderful cast iron materials that have been pre-seasoned and conduct heat perfectly you don’t have the aforementioned issues.

The plancha has also made me think outside the box in my recipes. We don’t just have to use olive oil to avoid sticking anymore. Once I stepped out of the box on the fish, I started thinking about recent spring cravings for pesto and fresh basil…which I do not have yet. So my mind drifted to what I do have, what is currently green in the garden, and no I do not mean the moss!! Rather, it is the parsley and chives, the lone soldiers of early spring green that is already big enough to eat from my garden Right.Now.

And so commenced the idea that I would make a parsley sauce to go over our grilled albacore steaks all accompanied by some simple buttered carrots and grilled artisan bread. The carrots were great because their sweetness and butteriness complimented the parsley flavor well. Additionally, the bread really anchored the meal, but you could do some rice or something instead. In all, this dish was great, fresh, and really rounded. I so very much enjoyed it.



4 or 6 – 8oz Albacore Tuna steaks (Trader Joe’s has good prices, you could also use Yellow Fin or Mahi Mahi)

3 T olive oil

juice and zest of one lime

1 t jalapeno salt (of course kosher will work fine!)

1 t pepper

Combine oil through pepper with a fork.

Drizzle over fish, turning fish to coat. Put fish in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes, flipping steaks once.

While you are waiting on the fish prep the ingredients for your sauce.You will want to start the sauce when the grill is started. The plancha takes 15 minutes to heat up…and so will the grill if using foil (get it to 400), and the fish should take about 4 minutes per side depending on thickness. This should be enough time to make the sauce if someone else is doing the grilling…if not, you should use the grill pan so you can do both at once.

Sauce (enough for 6 steaks)

3/4 c loosely packed, chopped Italian parsley

3 T chopped chives

2 T butter

3-3 1/2 T flour

1 1/2 c 1% milk (really any kind will work, except maybe skim, also you might need a little more)

1/2 t kosher salt

1/2 t pepper

Melt butter over medium heat and add flour. Cook the roux over medium heat for about 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add milk with a whisk and increase heat to medium-high, stirring constantly. As the mixture begins to bubble reduce heat to medium-low and add herbs, salt and pepper.

If the sauce thickens too much for your liking, add milk 1 T at a time, mixing thouroughly between additions. Serve over grilled fish.


Leave a comment

Filed under Grilling, Sauce and Gravy, Seafood