That’s right it’s just around the corner and one of the things we get asked about a lot is the gravy. For those of you who wait until the family is in the other room and then sneak the gravy into the blender in hopes of frappe-ing the lumps out before anyone sees, this blog’s for you.
Let’s talk about the meat of the matter. What makes gravy, gravy, is the use of the pan drippings. That’s the only thing that differentiates it from a regular ole sauce. But whether you are making a sauce or making a gravy the thickener that you need to be concerned about is the roux and this is the part that trips people up.
Before we make the roux let’s talk about roux basics. These are the rules you need to remember that will make your lumpy gravy go away.
1. If you are making hot roux you need to add COLD liquid- there you go that’s the secret, if you whisk in COLD stock (please please flavorful stock) to your HOT roux you will avoid the lumps. Many of you will be fine on the big day if you stop reading here.
2. If you are trying to thicken a hot liquid, you need to use COLD roux. Let’s take a minute and think about what the consistency of a cold cooked butter and flour mixture is. That’s right, it’s as hard as a brick. The way to negotiate this logistical nightmare is to grate your hard roux on a cheese grater and then whisk in the resulting flakes into your hot liquid. Viola! Thick non lumpy soup, sauce, stuff.
3. On the fateful day you will be making roux from the pan drippings (tasty grease!) from your poultry or roasted item (though I don’t think you can make tofurkey gravy…. and I don’t think I’d recommend trying). That means ever so carefully pouring, siphoning, ladling or baster sucking the drippings out of the bottom of the pan and transferring it into another pan. Then you add your flour to the consistency of wet sand. Bread flour is great, all purpose is totally fine. Once you have your wet sand, whisk in your cold yummy stock and gravy behold!
4. The longer you cook roux in the pan, the less you have to cook out the “paste” flavor in the sauce. If you cook the roux for half a minute in the pan then you’ll have to cook the gravy a little longer so that it doesn’t taste floury. Roux doesn’t cook out like starch does but it will get thicker if you evaporate out the liquid, and because it’s now thick, keep the temp low because you can burn it.
Are you looking to kick it up a notch or are you wanting to make the gravy earlier so you don’t have to mess with it at the end. Here are some tips for you.
-Butter makes a lovely base, forget about the clarified butter legend, whole butter tastes better and you aren’t cooking it long enough in the pan to burn it
-Bacon fat always rules, if you save it like I do, throw it in there for a little yummy addition.
– The amount of roux you have is going to determine the amount of gravy you are going to get. 3 oz of roux (about 2ish Tablespoons) is going to give you a quart of gravy. Now if you like your gravy thicker you might start with a little more if you like it runnier add more stock.
-throw in fresh herbs like thyme or italian parsley at the end.
– Please save us all and season it with salt and taste it before you serve it
– you can make milk or cream based gravy as well- it’s all good!
There you go, those are our pearls of gravy dripping wisdoms that will make your holiday fantastic. We wish you all the best and hope you let us know how the big day turns out. Don’t forget you are always welcome to ask us questions, we are happy to help you out!