Most of us remember the gravies from
our grandmothers' tables. Somehow gravy just isn't the
same anymore. Everywhere you go you see "gravy
mixes", which leave a lot to be desired when it comes to
taste. This is sad because homemade gravy is one
of the most frugal recipes you can find, and even though
it is very cheap, it generally tastes better than
the most expensive mix in the supermarket. Gravy over
toast makes a frugal but filling breakfast, lunch,
or dinner. Leftover gravy can be combined with cooked
pasta and vegetables, or hamburger and pasta for your
own homemade "hamburger helper" (which is all that
hamburger helper is - pasta and gravy).
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Rule of Thumb for Gravy:
A tasty gravy has oil,
flavored liquid, and something to thicken the liquid:
Thin gravy: 1 tbsp oil or butter, 1 tbsp
flour, 1 cup liquid.
Medium gravy: 2 tbsp oil or butter, 2 tbsp
flour, 1 cup liquid
Thick: 1/4 cup oil
or butter, 1/4 cup flour, 1 cup milk
Put the oil in a pan, add the flour to it, and
stir it so the flour and butter or oil are thoroughly
This mixture of oil and flour is known in the trade as
the ROUX, which is pronounced ROO. Generally,
for a white sauce, let the roux bubble over medium
heat for about a minute, stirring constantly. Remove from
add milk, turn heat back on, stir until thickened. Of the
thin, medium, and thick gravies, the consistency I like
is when I use 2 tablespoons of oil or butter and 2
tablespoons flour to make the roux to thicken one cup of
A liquid that is full of flavor will make a delicious
gravy. Use your own homemade stocks or broth/juices
from roasts or hams. If you are frying meat, you can
deglaze the pan (pour water into the hot pan and stir
so the flavor and bits of food are combined with the
water) and make the gravy with the pan water. Milk is used
cream gravies like sausage and bacon. In a pinch, you can
make a broth with bouillon and use that to make gravy.
No, you can't make roux in the
is best to measure the liquid, oil, and flour. Yes, your
grandmother did it by sight and yes you will eventually
be able to do this too, but probably not at first. With
these basic principles in mind, let's look at these gravy
All of them are given as 2 cup final quantity.
flavor to Gravies.
You can always add extra flavor to gravies. Before adding
the flour to the oil,
add some sliced/chopped garlic, onions or shallots, and a
chopped fresh or dried pepper. We especially like chipotle
in brown gravy. Sometimes we add dried mixed "Italian
herbs" like oregano, basil, rosemary, and thyme, and of
course black pepper.
The amount of salt a gravy requires depends on the taste
of the eaters. Be wary of adding too much salt.
With a simple white sauce, you don't let the flour brown.
You saute it for just a bit and then add the milk.
But with true country gravy, you want to let the flour
brown. One of the old names for country gravy is "scorch
and that's because you brown the flour right to the point
where a bit of it is turning from brown to black BUT
before it actually burns. Once you get to that point, you
need to move fast - turn off the fire, add the liquid all
and stir like crazy, continuing to stir frequently as you
turn the fire back on and cook it until it thickens to the
you want. Because deciding how much "brown" is
enough is such a judgment call, you may not want to go
in the beginning, only sauteeing the flour until it is a
light brown. You need to stir the roux constantly when you
After you have made gravy maybe 50 times, you will develop
your own eye for how dark you will like the roux. Note
"Constantly" means just that. Don't stop! Don't splatter
any on you or anyone standing close by, because it is
hot and can raise a blister faster than you can wipe it
If you use butter, cook the roux at a lower temperature so
that the butter itself doesn't burn. If you
like a darker roux, it is better to use oil as a dark
butter roux can take a long time. Olive oil is the only
oil I use in making roux.
I occasionally use meat fats from ham, bacon, sausage, or
Crumble sausage in a pan (say 1/8th lb for 2 cups gravy)
and fry until done. Remove sausage and measure the fat in
adding more oil or butter to make a total of 4
tablespoons. Add 4 tablespoons of flour and saute until
the flour is a light brown.
Turn off the burner. Add 2 cups milk (or 1 cup milk, 1 cup
water) and mix vigorously. Turn the burner back on, add
fried sausage to the gravy, continue to stir until the
gravy thickens to your desired consistency.
Pork Chop or
Sliced Ham Gravy
Fry the pork chops or sliced ham in one pan. Take out of
pan and set aside on a plate. In a second pan, melt 4
of butter or put 4 tablespoons of oil in the pan. Add 4
tablespoons flour, and saute until the flour is a
brown color. Turn the fire back on under the pork chop pan
and heat it up if it has cooled down. When it is hot, pour
water on it and stir/scrape the pan vigorously to deglaze
it and mix the little flavored bits (known in the trade as
with the water. Add this richly flavored water to the
Fry your bacon and measure 4 tablespoons of the fat into
the gravy pan. Add 4 tablespoons of flour, fry until light
Add 2 cups of milk, or 1 cup milk and 1 cup water, stir
until thickened to desired consistency.
Pot Roast or Ham
This is the traditional brown gravy you make from the
juices of a pot roast or a whole ham cooked in your oven
or in a crockpot.
Pour the juices/broth into a container and skim the fat
off the top. Put 4 tablespoons of the fat into a pan, add
4 tablespoons flour,
and saute until the flour is medium to dark brown. Pour
the broth into the roux, stirring constantly, turn the
burner back on
and continue stirring until it thickens to the desired
consistency. If you don't have enough broth, you can add
water to make the desired amount of liquid.
without the Roast . . . If you have
some frozen or left over beef stock (or chicken or
se that as the liquid and make gravy without having to
make a roast. If all else fails, you can make the pot
roast/ham gravy recipe
above and use bouillon for the liquid. I usually use twice
the recommended amount of bouillon to give the gravy more
Fry hamburger, drain fat, measure back into meat 2 tbsp of
hamburger fat, add 2 tbsp. flour, stir. If you are going
to make a cream gravy, make a very light brown roux and
use 1 cup milk. If you want a brown beef gravy, make a
darker brown roux and add 1 cup beef stock instead of
milk. Cook until thickened. Serve over rice, toast, or
When Gravy Goes
Wrong. . . The most common problem
with gravy is that it doesn't get thick enough. If this
happens to you,
take an empty jar (like a peanut butter jar), add
1/2 cup water and 2 tablespoons flour. Put the jar lid on
and shake it vigorously to mix the flour and the water. If
there are any blobs of flour on top of the water, skim
them off (or pour through a strainer). Add a little bit of
this mixture to the bubbling gravy and stir, keep doing
this until it thickens to the desired consistency.
Sauce: Use milk for the liquid, with a dash of
salt and pepper.
sauce: To 1 cup white sauce, add 1/4 tsp dry
mustard and ½ cup grated cheese.
sauce: Saute 1 cup sliced mushrooms and 1 tsp
grated onion in the butter or oil for white sauce, then
proceed as you would to make white sauce.
Sauce: To 1 cup white sauce, add 3 tbsp tomato
sauce: Same as white sauce, only use beef or
chicken or vegetable broth in place of milk. This is your
basic pot roast gravy with a French name.
sauce: To Veloute sauce, add 1 cup milk, 1/8 tsp
cayenne pepper, and 1 cup grated cheese.
Mushroom: Fry one strip of sliced bacon, add 1
tbsp flour, 1-1/2 tsp sugar, and a dash of salt. Cook
until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat, stir in 1 cup
tomato juice or juice from canned tomatoes. Bring to boil,
stirring constantly. Add about ½ cup sauteed mushrooms.
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