As the weather cools, I’ve started thinking about more autumnal dishes like casseroles, soups, and pot roasts. And what goes better with a roast than a steaming boat of gravy?
Just like stock, which I wrote about a couple of weeks ago (link), gravy is easy to make from a powder. But, just like stock, it’s surprisingly easy to make your own too!
Like stock, gravy is essentially flavourful water. However, gravy tends to be thicker and richer than stock.
To thicken your gravy, you can use flour – either wheat flour (in a roux), or cornflour. I wrote about both these techniques in my post on How to Make a White Sauce (link), but for convenience I’ve copied it below.
The classic technique to thicken gravy is called a roux. A roux starts by frying a spoonful of wheat flour in a little butter or oil. You have to be careful at this stage that the flour is cooked, or the resulting sauce will taste floury. You also have to be careful to avoid lumps – one way to do this is to add the flour to chopped onions, rather than directly into the pan. After a few minutes of frying, you can add some stock. To avoid lumps (again), you need to add it very slowly at first, and keep stirring!
It can be quite easy to get a roux wrong, so the thickening method I prefer is cornflour. Simply mix together one spoonful of cornflour with one spoonful of cold water. Then, add the cornflour mix to your sauce. The great thing about this method is that it can be done last-minute, there’s no floury aftertaste, it’s a lot easier to avoid lumps, and it’s even gluten-free!
To make your gravy rich and flavourful, start with some stock. This can be from a stock cube, or just the water you used to boil the vegetables. In fact, using ingredients like vegetable water is a great way to make sure your gravy really suits the meal you’re serving. You can also add any meat juices that are released during cooking, or even leftover oil from roasting vegetables!
Of course, you can also use herbs and spices to add flavour to a gravy. Rosemary, sage, parsley, and thyme are great classics to start with, but you could also try making a mint gravy to go with lamb, or basil for a slight Mediterranean twist.
You can even use other sauces in your gravy – if you’re serving turkey why not melt a little cranberry jelly into the gravy? Or you could add a spoon of honey and a dash of mustard to go with pork or chicken.
Gravy is a great part of a meal to experiment with, especially since it’s often made using ingredients that might otherwise simply be thrown away. Why not give it a go next time you make a roast?