This post brought to you by GravyMaster. All opinions are 100% mine.
We, as both food lovers and as a nation, are starting to look back on American cuisine in a new light. This is a good thing. We’ve spent too long looking to other cultures and cuisine for guidance, somehow feeling that the foods our parents and grandparents created was something less than stellar, that it was mundane in comparison to foods from other places. Of course, that is not the case at all.
American cuisine is simple, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t delicious. chefs all over America are looking to our past. they are recreating dishes once relegated to memory or ridicule, like hash, and elevating them to new levels. We as a culture have finally learned the most valuable lesson of a food community.
If it was good then, it’s good now.
Our grandmothers knew how to create fabulous dishes with very little. They used what was available and flavored it with what they had, or with what their mothers showed them how to use. In the 1950′s, many of these flavorings are things that modern home cooks have forgotten, but why?
Somehow we’re ashamed of the ingredients that our predecessors used. There’s a stigma attached to canned soups, store-bought seasonings and pre-measured spice blends. It’s a bias thrown at us by the classically taught chefs on T.V. and embraced by trend chasing foodies across the nation who shout loudly that if it isn’t made from scratch, it’s wrong.
But they’re the ones who are wrong. While times may change, a great dish does not. it may go out of favor at restaurants (remember lemon-pepper chicken?), but that doesn’t negate the fact that it was good in the first place, and still is. The fact that my grandmother used a store-bought flavor enhancer when she made her Holiday gravies and sauces does not make those gravies any less good than they were. Without the addition, they wouldn’t have been the gravy I remember from childhood, the gravy I still try to recreate every year, but never quite get.
When the folks from GravyMaster contacted me to ask if I’d create a recipe using their product, I remembered my grandmother. She had all kinds of “helpers” and “secret ingredients” in her cupboards. Among them was a product very similar to the one I use here. Others included special flours, a stash of nutmeg and some other things she would never share with me.
It was then that I realized that we are at a crossroads in our food culture. We stand at a point where products that have been used and loved in American kitchens since the 30′s and 40′s stand a chance at being forgotten. We risk passing them by, for no good reason whatsoever, just because someone with French training doesn’t agree with their use… But that’s nuts.
So I took a look at the ingredients list on the bottle. It isn’t gluten free (soy proteins), but other than that, it’s basically a reduction of soy and corn proteins (read, something like soy sauce) and some spices that I could make in my own kitchen, though I wouldn’t want to, it would be an expensive alternative to using what’s already in the bottle.
And what’s in the bottle is pretty darned versatile. As basically a soy sauce reduction, you can do about anything with it. The profile is a bit outside of what I think of as Asian, but it packs a good bit of umami and will definitely add a hint of savory/sweet to whatever it touches. Basically, wherever Hoisin or Soy would work, this will go, too.
I looked at the Master the meal portion of their site and checked out some recipes to see what others had done. A lot of the techniques looked familiar, the usage was what I would expect from a sweet soy reduction used as a glaze, so we took a shot and whipped out some sweet potatoes using a recipe I think my Grandma would have been proud of, but I’ll let you be the judge of that.
Recipe: Roasted Sweet Potatoes
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut in 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup vegetable oil
- 1 Tbsp GravyMaster
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Place sweet potato cubes in a large bow.
- In a separate dish, mix oil with GravyMaster, whisk well to combine. pour over sweet potatoes and toss to coat. season with salt and pepper.
- Pour onto a greased sheet pan and cook, stirring occasionally, for 45 – 60 minutes, or until well browned and fork tender.
- Serve immediately
Do you have an old family recipe that has a “secret ingredient” floating around in it? What would you create with a product like GravyMaster? Let us know in the comments. if not, head over to the recipe section at the GravyMaster website and take a look around. I know I’ll be trying variations on a few in the future.