Honestly, every savory thing. My middle son didn’t like gravy until about 6 months ago and its not because he had never had well made gravy. He’s just picky. I like a well made gravy and if it is well made, it can not only make everything taste better, it covers a multitude of culinary sins.
I always have the makings for all kinds of gravies in my cupboard. The basic ingredients for gravy are:
- A fat
- Flour or thickener
- A liquid or powdered flavor base
Now, it must be mentioned that there are two basic ways to make a gravy and several variations within the two ways. And yes, you can buy canned gravy or make it from an instant powder, I see no shame in that, in fact I use Turkey Gravy mix frequently. Remember though, if you’re trying to eat healthier, skip the mixes.
Here is a fast gravy for a Thanksgiving meal:
broth or drippings from a roasted turkey. Or use canned broth
2 cans Campbell’s Cream Of Chicken Soup – don’t try this with other brands.
Open the cans of soup, place them in a saucepan. Add broth and stir til the consistency is right. Add sliced boiled eggs and cut up giblets if desired. Season with salt and pepper. That’s it!
1. Made with a fat, flour to thicken and a meat or vegetable broth.
This is my preferred way and the way that I believe tastes best. But a perfectly good gravy can be made using bouillon or chicken/beef base instead of a canned or homemade broth.
2. Made with a broth or bouillon and thickened with cornstarch or other thickener.
This is the quickest way to make a gravy. The downside is in cooking, quicker is not usually better, just quicker. But if this kind of gravy floats your potatoes, go ahead and make it.
I’ll share with you my methods for making white gravy, chicken or beef gravy and meat with gravy as in: “SOS”. Lets just call that particular dish, meat with gravy on toast.
For most white gravies, like sausage gravy, you want to make a White Sauce. White Sauces are simple once you know the ratio of fat, flour and liquids. There are Thin, Medium and Thick white sauces. For gravy you want Medium.
Medium White Sauce
A heavy skillet or medium sized sauce pan. The heavier the better to keep the butter and sauce from burning.
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup flour. You can use any kind of flour you like. Remember that whole grain flours will make your white sauce sort of tan in color and a little heavier in texture but it will be very good tasting.
2 cups milk. You can use instant dry, powdered milk, evaporated milk or regular milk. The more fat in the milk, the richer the resulting sauce will be.
Melt the butter in the heavy pan over medium-high heat. Once its is melted, add the flour and stir it into the butter so that every bit of flour is coasted with butter.
Allow the flour/butter to cook until it is a light golden brown color. Notice the aroma of the cooked mixture, it is different from the raw flour and butter when you first add the flour to the butter.
Slowly add the milk to the butter/flour mixture, stirring or whisking it constantly. You may want to remove the pan from the heat while you add the milk to keep the flour from making lumps. If you do get some lumps just press them out with a wooden spoon and keep stirring til the mixture is smooth.
Now with that basic White Sauce recipe you can do all kinds of marvelous things!
To make Chicken Gravy, substitute 1 cup of chicken broth or bouillon for one cup of milk. Add bits of cooked chicken if desired.
To make Cheese sauce, add 3/4 cup shredded cheese and 1/4 teaspoon dry mustard to the White Sauce, stir in well.
To make Beef Gravy, substitute 1 cup beef broth or stock or bouillon for 1 cup of the milk, season with a bit of dried or fresh thyme. Add bits of cooked beef if desired.
You can also use White Sauce to make homemade Cream-Of Soups!
Now lets make SOS, or meat with gravy on toast. Or you could use biscuits. I like homemade bread, toasted topped with this delicious mixture.
Ground Meat With Gravy
In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, brown 2 pounds of ground meat. I often use venison for this. You can use less meat, but reduce the other ingredients accordingly. Season the meat with salt and black pepper
Check to see how much fat is cooked out of the meat. You need 4 tablespoons of fat. If you don’t have enough, you can add some butter to make 4 tablespoons total fat. Or, if you prefer, you can drain the meat fat and replace it with coconut oil or other fat.
When the meat is done and no longer pink, sprinkle 4 tablespoons of flour over the meat. Stir the flour into the meat and fat and allow the flour to cook, about 2-3 minutes.
Now pour 2 cups of milk over the meat/flour mixture, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat if necessary, but keep stirring. Allow the mixture to cook a few minutes, and add more milk if needed to make it thinner, its up to you and what you like.
Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve hot over toast or biscuits or even cooked noodles.
There are times when you are in a hurry or when you don’t have ingredients to make a flour/fat/liquid gravy. These are the times you can make a quick gravy from liquid, a powdered flavoring and a thickener.
Beef Gravy made from beef base and water:
2 cups water
Beef base or bouillon to taste
Extra seasonings such as thyme, oregano or pepper
A thickener such as cornstarch or clear jel or arrowroot powder
Bring the water to a boil, add the beef base or bouillon to taste. Season to taste.
Now add the thickener by first taking about 1/2 cup of the hot beef base/water mixture into a cup and adding some of your thickener. The usual amount of cornstarch to use per cup of liquid is 1 Tablespoon. Start out with 2 Tablespoons of cornstarch in this recipe. Stir the cornstarch into the 1/2 cup of beef base/water. Return to the pot and stir well. Let cook a few minutes.
You can make a clear chicken gravy using those same instructions above by substituting the beef base or bouillon with chicken base or bouillon.
You can use a combination of the ground meat with gravy method and the White Sauce to make…
Fry your sausage, remove from skillet when done. Reserve one or two patties for the gravy. Cut up the patties into small bits. Check the amount of fat in the skillet, you need about 4 tablespoons. Add some butter if needed.
Heat the bits of sausage and fat up over medium-high heat. Sprinkle 4 tablespoons of flour over the fat and sausage, stir in to coat all the flour with fat. Cook til the flour is done, about 3 minutes, remember the aroma changes when the flour is done.
Slowly add 2 cups of milk, stirring constantly. Reduce heat if its boiling too hard, you don’t want to get burned by gravy slopping out of the pan. Stir and let cook for about 5 minutes or until thick. Taste for seasonings and season with salt and black pepper. Serve over biscuits or torn up pieces of loaf bread. And a sliced tomato. And a glass of iced tea.
Here’s how to make gravy using the pan drippings from a beef roast or roasted chicken or turkey.
Pan Dripping Gravy
Pan drippings already have fat and the flavored liquid in them so all you need to do is to thicken that with cornstarch or regular clear jel. OR flour. My personal favorite for this kind of gravy is flour.
Measure and see how much pan drippings you have. For every 1 cups of drippings you’ll want to use 1 tablespoon of cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup of the hot drippings or 1 tablespoon of regular clear jel mixed with 1/2 cup cold water. OR 4 tablespoons of flour.
Add the thickener to 1/2 cup of the hot drippings add back to the pan and bring to a boil. Cook about 5 minutes. If you need more thickening, add some more a little at at time in the same way as above.
To use flour, put 1/2 cup of warm (not hot) drippings into a small jar with a tight fitting lid, add 4 tablespoons flour for every cup of drippings in the pan, put the lid on and tighten. Shake it like crazy til the flour is combined with the liquid. Add the liquid and flour back to the pan drippings, bring to a boil and cook til thick.
Taste and season.
Now don’t be afraid of gravy! Make it to dress up leftovers or make a less than perfect cut of meat very appetizing.
Do you make gravy??