Perfect Gravy

October 12th, 2009
by: Blue

One of the ways I rate restaurants is by the quality of the gravy.  It doesn’t matter what kind of gravy it is – brown, white, chicken, sausage – if it’s not made from scratch, I can tell INSTANTLY.  Pun intended.  Instant gravy has a very distinguishable taste, and it’s not all that great.  Alot of people don’t seem to have an issue with instant gravy, but apparantly I am a spoiled rotten gravy snob.  That’s right – a gravy snob.  I know what homemade gravy is and I know how easy it is to make, so my tolerence for any other kind is low.

Gravy is easy!  All you have to do is start with a roux.  Again, it doesn’t matter what kind of gravy you are making; a roux is always the perfect beginning to a perfect gravy.  And puh-lease! I don’t belong to the cornstarch-in-gravy fan club!  Cornstarch is flavorless, and I don’t like the gelatinous texture.  I’d much rather have a flour-based roux that allows me to layer flavors in the gravy. 

To make a roux you need a 1 to 1 ratio of oil/fat to flour.  For a medium size batch of gravy I usually use 1/2 cup butter and 1/2 flour.  I don’t think you can really have a better flavor combination for roux than butter and flour, there’s nothing bad about that, but feel free to substitute oil or crisco for the butter if you must.  Melt the butter over medium heat in a saucepan.  Once it’s melted whisk the flour in, and continue to whisk constantly until the flour is light-to-medium brown and smells nutty.  Don’t walk away from roux; it burns easily.

Add your liquid according to what kind of gravy you are making (see  Gravy Variations below).  Your gravy will be lumpfree if you add a cold liquid to a hot roux, but don’t sweat the small stuff if you have hot liquid and hot roux and no time to wait.  Just whisk and whisk and whisk, until the gravy is smooth.  Continue to cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the gravy is as thick as you like it.  Season to taste with salt, black, and white pepper.  I always season with white AND black pepper because I like the bite of white pepper, and again, it’s all about the layering of flavors.

Gravy Variations:

Poultry gravy – add 1-2 quarts of chicken or turkey stock to the roux.  Add poultry seasoning if desired.
Brown gravy – Add 1-2 quarts of beef stock to the roux
Cream gravy – Add 1-2 quarts of milk to the roux
Lighter cream gravy – Add 1/2 – 1 quart of chicken stock and 1/2 – 1 quart of milk to the roux
Sausage gravy – Add 1-2 quarts of milk to the roux and 1 lb of browned, crumbled breakfast sausage (or vegetarian sausage)

Who doesn’t love sausage gravy?  It is a favorite in my house, even when I make it with vegetarian sausage.  Please pass the biscuits!

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