I am not a fan of turkey. There I said it and I mean it. The stuff is fowl.. or foul… That said I’ve always considered turkey to be reason to make two things that I love (and probably should not eat much of) gravy and stuffing. It is also a mechanism to help get the gravy and stuffing to my mouth.
So how do you make a gravy? Pretty easily I might say and yet I know of people who panic over making a gravy and make more trouble for themselves that they should. Gravy sometimes has a fat component to it and I’ll get to that in a bit. Otherwise it is some sort of liquid and some sort of thickener and is sometimes cooked and sometimes made at the last second to finish a dish.
There are many kinds of gravy (sometimes referred to as a sauce) ranging from white gravy, to sawmill gravy to brown gravy. I’ll be posting recipes later for examples of these.
I’m going to cover in this article two styles of gravy production. Making a roux or using a slurry.
Here’s the setup. You proudly pull that well roasted chicken from the oven. There are juices in the bottom of the pan and you think to yourself “I’d like gravy to go with my meal… especially on the mashed potatoes.”
See this stuff:
Throw it away. Better yet don’t buy it or any of its other brands because you are going to make a real gravy not one laden with a bunch of chemicals you don’t need. Besides that one has a curse word on it, “turkey.”
Here are the steps to gravy heaven:
- place your roasting pan on a burner on the stove. You did you use a good roasting pan that can go on the stove, right?
- Turn the heat on to medium high (not too high) and heat up the pan and the juices
- Add chicken broth, about two cups, to the juices and using a wooden spoon or spatula scrape the brown bits (known as frond) off the pan. Whoever is doing dishes later just might thank you.
- Put three tablespoons of a thickening agent (I’ll get to this) into a bowl and add another cup of broth to that bowl and mix very well. I use a whisk for this step. You want get all the lumps out.
- Add this slurry to the pan using a whisk or other implement until well mixed. Bring the heat up and let the boiling action thicken your gravy.
- Pull from the heat and serve.
Your thickening agent could be any one of these items:
- Corn Starch
In Asian cultures things like rice flour, sweet potato starch and other things are used for this purpose as well. For a meat gravy such as I’m describing here I prefer to use flour. I find the mouthfeel and richness to be optimal for meat dishes all around.
Roux consists of flour and fat in equal measures and is cooked before use. Some folks make large batches of it and keep it in a Mason jar in the refrigerator for future use. I don’t I make mine as I need it because what I’m using it for will depend on how I cook it.
The fat component can be any fat that will stand up to being cooked in a skillet while being combined with the flour. I might make a roux with clarified butter and flour and cook it very lightly where I want my gravy or sauce to have a lighter color to it. On the other hand if I’m making a roux to thicken a gumbo I want a really dark roux so I’ll used bacon fat (oh yeah baby!) or vegetable oil and cook that roux until it is almost black.
The majority of the time I make roux it is to the peanut butter stage bottom left on the image above. The darker the roux is the less it will thicken so facter this into your plans before making the roux.
Here are the steps to making a roux:
- Heat your fat in a skillet over mednot quite to the point of smoking
- Add your flour
- Using a whisk combine the flour and fat until smooth
- Keep whisking as the roux cooks and darkens
- When to the desired color remove from the heat and pan