Thursday, December 2, 2010

Who Doesn't Love Gravy !

Who doesn't love a good gravy?  Growing up in an English household, we tended to enjoy it quite often. Maybe a little more often than we should have , but hey I was a growing boy and needed all the calories i could get .  For years , I had just assumed Bisto was how everyone made gravy . Hahaha boy was I wrong.  Now I still have some on hand , its a great way to make a quick stew , or bulk up some leftover gravy.  What got me to thinking  was just how much I had started adding to it ,  in the beginning it was just the granules ( or the powder ) and some flour,  maybe a dash of L&P for fun .  Then I started adding the pan drippings, onions , garlic and a variety of other ingredients.  So I decided to break the mould and give scratch made gravy a try.  The first couple were a little rough , but now its almost as easy as grabbing the old familiar container. 
There  are so many options when it comes to gravy , i could spend a month making different ones , and still have barely scratched the surface of options available.  I like them thick, thin, clear, basic, and complex..   I rarely strain mine as i don't mind little bits of roast ,  onion,  or whatever else was stuck to the pan, in my gravies. This one is my average gravy, fairly thick , with a good amount of flavour. So lets get started :)
I like to start my gravy, in the pan I just cooked my roast in . Not required, buy highly recommended.

See all the goodness, on the pan.  That's what you want.  Normally there would be a lot more, but I had roasted this with veggies in a different pan  until half way, then transferred it to my cast iron pan when I realized i wouldnt be able to use the other one for gravy.
Remove the roast to rest , deglaze the pan with a  few splashes of red wine , and reserve the liquid for a couple of minutes.

Start by making a roux, equal parts butter to flour. 

Once you have some melted butter to work with, start mixing.

Mix until it has a nice consistency and colour  ( 5 minutes or so on medium heat ) less time for light gravies , more for darker.  You should not have any raw flour left at this point.

Time to add back in the deglazed red wine,  some water ( or stock, which I normally have on hand but didn't today )  and start building your flavours.  I just added some Lea & Perrins, and Bourbon Street Bad hot sauce, for now.

Keep adding liquids until you like the consistency , This was almost perfect  for me.  I added a splash of 10% cream... mostly just because it was there and only had a drop left anyways :)

Once you've got the colour, and thickness to your liking, it time to season to taste with sea salt and freshly cracked black pepper.  I added a few pinches of basil to it as well.  Remove from the heat, and get ready to plate your meal.
 I made a small error here , and left the gravy in my cast iron  pan while i plated and took all my photos... it didn't ruin the gravy at all , but just be warned cast iron continues to cook its contents even when off the heat .  It tasted great , but thickened up a but more than i would have liked.  However it did let me take great photos of the gravy . Which is sometimes hard to do.

That's it , just add your homemade from scratch gravy to anything you like.  Personally ,  I like it on everything on my plate.
I have heard some horror stories about gravy , too lumpy , too runny , no taste etc..  this can all be fixed with just a little work .
Too thin, add a pinch or two of corn starch
Too thick, add boiling water ( if you boil your veggies, that water is the best! adds flavour ) or hot stock slowly , while stirring until you like it.
Too Lumpy,  either break up all the lumps with the back of a spoon, or simpley strain the gravy thru a fine sieve.. blender sticks can save the day too, if you don't want to lose the food bits in your gravy. 
No taste...  Check the S&P levels , add your favourite herbs, garlic, onions , mushrooms , red wine, ale ..  the options are endless. 

Enjoy & Happy Cooking !
Rich Fletcher