You've roasted up an exquisite bird, mashed the potatoes just so, crumbled the stuffing to perfection, your feast only awaits the gravy to crown a culinary masterpiece. There's no pressure, right? Relax. From the rules on roux, to the details on deglazing, we've scoured our sources for everything you need to know about making the perfect gravy. Armed with these tips, you'll never forget how to make homemade gravy again.
Chefs have repurposed leftover drippings and fat into the delicious sauce we know as gravy for centuries. Originating in the British Isles, the first recorded mention of gravy dates to a 14th century English cookbook. In the years since, gravy has weaved itself into the U.S. culinary traditions as well, most notably as a staple of just about every Thanksgiving dinner in the nation.
The Health Benefits of Gravy
If prepared correctly, gravy offers a surprising range of nutritional benefits. While roasting your meat definitely improves the flavor of your dinner, some of the healthy stuff is cooked off as a result.
Gravy can recover much of what was lost due to cooking. According to the aforementioned gravy-lovers at the Royal Society of Chemistry, reuniting those lost drippings and bits with your roast recovers vitamins B1, B6, folic acid and protein. Did you need any more encouragement to make a great recipe for gravy this year?
The Gravy-Makin' Overview
While there are two different types of gravy, the most common Thanksgiving tradition is a simple brown gravy recipe. Apart from the turkey, this can be made with pot roast drippings, prime rib pan drippings, and even roast chicken pan juices.
Country gravy or sausage gravy is most often white or cream-colored and made with drippings from bacon, sausage, or ham (all typical breakfast meats). It's most often served with biscuits for the classic Southern dish. What is goes in the gravy? Traditional gravy recipes have three key ingredients in small amounts.
Bits: The browned, charred remnants stuck fast to the roasting pan. An essential ingredient, bits contribute a "meaty" quality to the turkey gravy.
Roux: Equal parts heated fat skimmed from the drippings and flour, roux thickens the gravy, which produces its signature rich, deep texture.
Stock: Lumpy gravy has been the bane of many a chef and the demise of many a delicious mound of mashed potatoes. Different stock bases, in different quantities, let you fine-tune the consistency (and taste) of your gravy and avoid lumpiness.
When it comes to actually making your gravy mix, here are a few tips we swear by.
- Water serves as the simplest option and a safe choice for those watching their calories or sodium.
- Store bought, pre-made stocks offer a fast, easy alternative to the labor-intensive process of preparing your own.
- Homemade stocks require some planning, but if your gravy is Thanksgiving-turkey bound, you likely have the ingredients for a tasty homemade stock on hand already.
- Red wine makes for a flavorful base. Remember that although wine reduces quickly in heat, its flavor actually intensifies.
Our Foolproof, Simple Gravy Recipe
- 1/4 cup fat
- 1 cup drippings
- 1/4 cup flour (0r Tbsps cornstarch)
- 1 and 1/2 cups stock (or water, milk, wine etc...)
- Season with salt and pepper to taste (optional)
1. Collect the fat from pan. Remove your roast from the pan. Collect the juice and fat from the pan in a glass or measuring cup and set aside to allow the fat to separate at the top.
2. Scrape up the drippings. While the pan is still hot, use a spatula to scrap up all the browned bits. You can pour some of the broth into the pan at this step if you need to loosen bits stuck fast to the bottom of the pan
3. Thicken. Skim off the 1/4 fat into a different saucepan and heat on medium-high until liquid. Whisk in the flour and stir until mixture begins to bubble.
4. Add drippings. Pour 1 cup drippings into the roux and stir until thick.
5. Pour in the stock. Gradually pour in the stock and stir well. Add as much or as little as needed to achieve desired consistency.
6. Season. Salt and pepper to taste.