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Topic: The Rest is Gravy

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ruralrogue avatar
Subject: The Rest is Gravy
Date Posted: 5/4/2009 5:21 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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How do you make gravy? That's one of the cooking skills that I've managed to miss out on over the years.

I like liver & onions. I like it a lot, in fact. I'd prefer it with gravy and poured over rice or mashed potatoes. Since I don't know how to make gravy, I make it plain. I know that to make gravy, you add flour and either water or milk (I'm not sure which) to the pan after the liver is cooked. But, every time I try it, it's awful. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong.

Anyone have any tips?

LesleyH avatar
Friend of PBS-Silver medal
Date Posted: 5/4/2009 8:30 PM ET
Member Since: 4/30/2007
Posts: 2,728
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I don't make a lot of gravy, but here are the basics as taught to me by my mom, who learned from my dad's mom, a good old-fashioned southern home cook.  Cook whatever it is you're cooking, remove from pan and set aside.  You have to start with adequate drippings, so if there are not enough, you'll want to supplement with some broth or stock.  Heat drippings and broth if necessary over medium-high heat, scraping up all of the cooked bits that are stuck to the bottom of the pan.  Add more broth as needed.  You could add water, but broth gives it more flavor.  When you have scraped up everything that is stuck to the bottom of the pan, strain the drippings and discard solids, returning strained drippings to the pan.  Then make your slurry, which is flour mixed with your liquid (broth or water), and mix well using a whisk.  Start with about a tablespoon of flour and 3 or 4 tablespoons of liquid, and make more as necessary (it should not be too thick).  Make sure that your broth is not heated- it should be cold or at least room temperature, no warmer.  Heat the drippings in your pan to just boiling, then slowly add the slurry a little at a time, whisking it in quickly as you add it.  It may take a bit for it to thicken, so don't add the slurry too fast, or you will end up with gravy that is too thick.  Add the slurry and cook until it reaches the desired consistency and season to taste.  Be sure to let it cook for at least a minute, to get rid of the raw flour flavor.  Serve immediately.  It may take you a few tries to get it right, but once you have the basic method down, it's very easy.

Good luck, and enjoy!

ruralrogue avatar
Date Posted: 5/5/2009 2:05 PM ET
Member Since: 4/25/2008
Posts: 428
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Thanks, I'll give it a shot.

hazeleyes avatar
Subject: Slightly different order of prep but same idea
Date Posted: 5/5/2009 4:38 PM ET
Member Since: 12/27/2008
Posts: 42
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This is called pan sauce, or pan gravy. Works for almost any meat, poultry, or fish:

Remove sauteed (fried) meat or poultry and set aside; keep warm.

Measure the fat or estimate how much is in the pan.

If more than 2 tablespoons, remove whatever is more than 2 tablespoons and save in storage container for similar use later. Refrigerate for up to one week, or freeze for up to 3 months.*(see note below)

If you do not have 2 tablespoons, make up the difference using olive oil or butter.

Melt the fat but do not burn or turn the heat so high that it sizzles.

For 2 cups of pan sauce, use 2-3 tablespoons of flour; sprinkle the flour over the fat and mix thoroughly.

Stirring constantly, turn up the heat slightly to just under medium and mix the roux until the flour is thoroughly incorporated with the fat and let the mixture cook one or two minutes.

Meanwhile measure two cups of stock. Chicken makes a good base for most pan gravies, though a beef saute or liver might tasted better with beef broth or half beef and half chicken. You can experiment.

Mixing while you pour, slowly add the stock to the roux in the pan and stir or whisk energetically in order to get out all the lumps.

Heat the pan sauce until it begins to simmer; stir and simmer the sauce until it thickens well.

Taste for seasoning (salt and pepper) but add judiciously, not too much as a time, stirring and tasting after each addition.

Once the sauce tastes deliciously balanced, give it another minute of thickening and remove from heat.

Strain the sauce through a sieve or strainer to remove any errant lumps, return to cooking pan and heat to a very tiny simmer, add the meat and heat gently for 2-3 minutes.

That's it. Pan gravy in about 12 minutes, as good as grandma made, and this works for almost any meal, even plain old hamburgers.

If you have lots of fond (brown bits) left in the pan after sauteeing/frying your meat or poultry, your sauce will be more flavorful than if there is little fond. If little fond, you may add 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste to the roux and the stock in the simmer stage (add by teaspoons, mixing well and tasting after each addition), 1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard (by teaspoons, tasting after each), red or white wine (same instructions), Worcestershire sauce (same), steak sauce (same), or other commercial condiment that you might like, but be judicious about the amount. It shouldn't overpower the flavor of your sauce and you may not need it at all. I like a tablespoon or two of unsalted butter (Irish butter is wonderful and so is Polish butter.). Mix it in at the end when the sauce is off the heat but still hot. Delicious. For a cream sauce, cut back on the amount of stock and add up to 1/2 cup heavy cream. Mmmmmmmm, so good.

Note: *Mixed fats such as bacon and other pork fat can be mixed together, stored in fridge, and used to make baking powder biscuits, dumplings for stew or soup, or other culinary uses, even cakes or cookies. Delicious baked goods were made by Europeans and immigrants from Europe using animal and poultry fats, and such products are as good today as they were in the early 1900s and through history. Pork fats may be mixed but I've found that poultry fats should be kept separate. Chicken fat works well mixed with butter or for sauteeing onions when preparing a dish that calls for sauteeing the ingredients then putting the dish together. Goose fat is prized in some parts of Europe as a spread on good bread, preferred to butter. Duck fat can be used many ways and tastes delicious for certain sautees, for baked goods, and sometimes as a spread on bread.