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
mixed. 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 heat, add milk, turn heat back on, stir until
thickened. Of the thin, medium, and thick gravies, the
consistency I like best is when I use 2 tablespoons of oil
or butter and 2 tablespoons flour to make the roux to
thicken one cup of liquid.
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 vigorously
so the flavor and bits of food are combined with the
water) and make the gravy with the pan water. Milk is used
for cream gravies like sausage and bacon. In a pinch, you
can make a broth with bouillon and use that to make gravy.
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 and coconut oil are the
oils I use in making roux, plus meat fats from ham, bacon,
sausage, or roast. Always save the fat from meats
that you cook, keep the fat you drain in a jar in the
refrigerator so you always have some flavorful fat for
Yes, you can make roux in a microwave.
Oven roux? Yes you can
make roux in an oven.
Yes, you can freeze roux. Making it is not
complicated, but can be time consuming. So make a
bunch, and freeze it in whatever portions you typically
use to make gravy. For my crew of five, I typically
make a quart of gravy, which will take a half cup of flour
and a half cup of fat, so I freeze it in 3/4 cup portions
(1/2 cup flour + 1/2 cup oil = about 3/4 cup more or
less). I use half pint canning jars.
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 recipes. 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 peppers 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
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
gravy", 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 at once, and stir like crazy,
continuing to stir frequently as you turn the fire back on
and cook it until it thickens to the consistency you
want. Because deciding how much "brown" is enough is such
a judgment call, you may not want to go that far in the
beginning, only sauteeing the flour until it is a light
brown. You need to stir the roux constantly when you cook
After you have made gravy maybe 50 times, you will develop
your own eye for how dark you will like the roux. Note
that stirring "Constantly" means just that. Don't stop!
Don't splatter any on you or anyone standing close by,
because it is EXTREMELY hot and can raise a blister
faster than you can wipe it off.
Crumble sausage in a pan (say 1/8th lb for 2 cups gravy)
and fry until done. Remove sausage and measure the fat in
the pan, 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 the
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
tablespoons of butter or put 4 tablespoons of oil in
the pan. Add 4 tablespoons flour, and saute until the
flour is a beautiful chocolate 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 2 cups water
on it and stir/scrape the pan vigorously to deglaze it and
mix the little flavored bits (known in the trade as the
fond) with the water. Add this richly flavored water
to the bubbling roux.
Fry your bacon and measure 4 tablespoons of the fat into
the gravy pan. Add 4 tablespoons of flour, fry until light
brown. 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
vegetable stock), use that as the liquid and make
gravy without having to make a roast. If you have no
homemade broths, 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 authority.
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
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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