Gravy worth gobbling

This article was originally published in November 2014

With just three required ingredients, classic gravy should be foolproof. But, since it’s usually the last task before the meal begins, things can get rushed and a bit off kilter. Take a deep breath and follow these five simple steps.
  1. Decide whether you’re going to make your gravy ahead of time, or at the last minute. Advance cooking means you won’t have pan drippings, but it can be less stressful. (Reheat it at low temperature in the microwave or on the stovetop.)

  2. To make the gravy base known as roux, measure out equal amounts of fat and flour. A quarter cup of each makes about 8 servings of gravy. Melt the fat in a skillet over low heat, and whisk in flour; keep whisking for 2 to 5 minutes, until it’s golden brown.

  3. Slowly add cold or room temperature drippings or broth to your roux — 3 1/2 cups for 8 servings. Whisk in a tablespoon at a time to begin, then pour in larger amounts as it starts to thin. This prevents splattering and reduces the likelihood of lumps.

  4. Raise the temperature to medium and cook, whisking occasionally, until the gravy is hot throughout and has thickened. If you’d like it thinner, add up to a 1/2 cup more broth.

  5. Add your flavorings — up to 1 tablespoon of mixed fresh herbs (1 teaspoon dried), or 2 tablespoons of wine or cider. You can also stir in a few tablespoons of sautéed onions or mushrooms.

Fats

Butter, ghee, olive oil, peanut oil. Avoid nut oils with potentially sweet, strong flavors.

Thickeners

All-purpose flour, pastry or cake flour, gluten-free flour blends, white rice flour. Avoid whole grains or high protein bread flours.

Broths

A mix of pan drippings with homemade or low-sodium broth is preferred. For vegetarian gravy, use mushroom broth.

Optional: final flavors

Fresh sage, parsley or bay leaf; vermouth, sherry, dry wine or cider; sautéed mushrooms, onions or diced apples; tamari or horseradish.

 

Troubleshooting tips

Lumpy?

This can happen if you go too fast when adding your broth. Pour the gravy through a sieve to remove the lumps, or carefully pour into a blender and whirl on low speed for about 1 minute.

Thick?

Simply add more broth, water or wine (or a mixture) until the consistency is how you’d like it. Go slowly, or you’ll end up having to thicken it back up!

Thin?

Continue cooking for up to 20 minutes, stirring regularly. The longer it’s cooked, the more it will thicken.

Bland?

This can happen if your roux wasn’t toasted enough or if you watered down your broth. Add extra herbs, black pepper and tamari or horseradish to give it a depth of flavor.

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