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November 06, 2020
Before you reach for a package of instant gravy from your pantry, consider whipping up a hearty gravy from scratch. A rich and flavorful gravy completes any dish and this post will give you all the tips on how to make the perfect gravy.
Gravy is a sauce made from the drippings or juices that result from cooking meats. It is typically thickened using cornstarch or flour, but cal also be reduced to get a thicker consistency.
A good gravy is a well season gravy. Salt, pepper, and herbs are a must. Also, acidity and sweetness can make your gravy sing! The best gravies are rich, well balanced and the right consistency. Here are the steps to make the perfect gravy.
The basic steps to making gravy are simple.
As meat cooks something magical happens at the bottom of the roasting pan! Fat and liquid render off the meat and collect, waiting to be used. Don’t pour away this leftover liquid; set it aside to use as the base for your gravy. You will be surprised at the fantastic flavor.
How you cook your meat can affect the amount juices collected after the cooking process. If you cook your meat uncovered, much of the liquid can evaporate before it has a chance to turn into drippings. Cooking your meat in an enclosed dutch oven or even with tightly fitting tin foil will help keep those juices from dissipating. Consider using cooking bag for turkeys and other large roasts so there is place for those juices to collect.
If the cut of meat is particularly lean, it might not produce many juices. One way to increase the yield, is to add some water or stock at the beginning of the cooking process. You can also add this at the end to increase the amount you have to work with.
A good stock will add great flavor to gravy and can be made in advance. You can of course, purchase canned stock or broth, but it can be easily made from scratch as well!
For a simple stock, first get hold of some bones and meat scraps (your local butcher should be able to help). Roast these alongside herbs and vegetables such as onions, garlic and carrots. After they have browned nicely, transfer the roasted bones and veggies to a pot and simmer them under water. As the mixture bubbles into a rich stock, skim away unwanted fat and solids from the top with a large spoon. Now all you need to do is strain your stock and set aside for when your gravy needs an extra punch of flavor!
There are a number of ways to thicken your gravy. Wheat flour and cornstarch are the most common. Thickening gravy will give it some body and prevent it from drowning everything on your plate.
Thickeners should be mixed with cold water before adding to a hot pot of gravy. This will prevent unwanted lumps.
Don’t have a thickener on hand? You can thicken your gravy just be reducing it in the pan. Keep your gravy simmering over the heat while you work on with something else. You can always add water or more stock if it becomes slightly too thick.
There is plenty of room for experimentation in gravy making. If your meat is well seasoned, you may not need to add much. Salt and pepper are a must when seasoning gravy, but there are other dried herbs and spices that can help too. If you didn’t have any stock to add, onion powder, garlic powder, and celery salt are good substitutes.
Wine is a great way to add flavor and acidity. Red wine gravy is a perfect accompaniment for lamb or beef, as is white wine for chicken. Wine brings a nice acidity to balance out the richness of gravy. The most important thing to remember when using wine in your gravy is to cook out the alcohol. To do this place your gravy on a medium-high heat until its reduced by half.
If you are looking for some extra sweetness in your gravy, then grab some red currant jelly. Add the jelly to your gravy half a teaspoon at a time until it is to your liking. Don’t be heavy handed because you might lose the rich meatiness of your gravy with too much sugar.
Once you have your gravy thickened and seasoned you need a way to serve it at the table. Might we offer the Ergo Spout® as the easiest and most unique of gravy boats? It will be easy to pass around and there won’t be a messy ladle to deal with. You can adjust it to the size of your dinner party by using a quart jar for a large gather or a pint for a more intimate setting.
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