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Oatmeal Gravy

At the moment the kitchen is not well-stocked. Among many missing items, there is no flour. I wanted to roast a chicken and make gravy with the drippings. People said, “Why don’t you just go to the store and get some flour?” But what’s the fun in that? And we’re in Troy: it’s snowing outside. Frankly, I just want to stay in.

In the cupboard, I did have oatmeal, which I pulverized in the blender and mixed that flour with butter to make a roux. The chicken was roasting in a cast iron skillet. When it was done, I removed it and put the skillet over a high flame deglazing its sizzling bottom with chicken stock (I drank the wine yesterday). I brought that to a boil, spooned in the roux and stirred with a whisk. It began to thicken—I know it would have thickened as it reduced anyway, but it was thickening. I added more chicken stock and then, on a whim, poured in the rest of the oatmeal flour that wasn’t in the roux.

Usually, making gravy, I would take some of the raw roux, a spoonful, and heat it in a sauté pan, stirring it with a fork over a high flame until the alchemy of melting butter and flour bonded together over fire. The roux was raw when I added it to the drippings and chicken stock to make the gravy. If it had been flour and butter I was working with, I would have probably cooked it first without even thinking about it, but the oatmeal made me forget, took the memory from my muscles. If I’m a true scientist, a good cook, I will have to do this again with an oatmeal and butter roux I cook up before whisking into the simmering stock.

Obviously, oatmeal will be oatmeal, it thickens on its own. It looked a little bit like lumpy gravy because some tiny flecks of the oatmeal could be seen, but it was not lumpy at all. It reminded me of Puerto Rican oatmeal, what they call avena, which is a milkier oatmeal that you drink in a glass not with a spoon. I had salted and peppered the bird well beforehand so the drippings in the skillet were well seasoned. A wheat flour and butter roux makes gravy perfectly, so perhaps my oatmeal gravy was not flawless, but Akram and I had second helpings of stuffing with gravy. And as I was cleaning up, I must confess, I had a few more spoons of it.

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