How to Make Lovely Homemade Gravy (eat your heart out Marco Pierre White!)

“'There is no such passion in human nature as the passion for gravy among commercial gentlemen”
Charles Dickens, 'Martin Chuzzlewit' (1844)

There seems to be an inordinate fuss these days about making gravy; from the advert that says “Remember how great home-made gravy used to taste?” as if it’s a bygone skill to magazine articles suggesting that you don't use gravy granules “for a change".


This post concerns making gravy to accompany a roast and, just in case you, wondered …

Making the Best Gravy Ever is really easy!

~   Whilst your roasted meat is having its rest *** pour all the fat and juices from the roasting pan into a jug (a fat separating jug would be ideal but anything will do).
~   Put the empty roasting pan over a low heat and add a cup or a large sploosh of water and bring to a boil scraping the bottom of the pan assiduously to dislodge every last scrap of browned juices and cooked on meaty goodness and then simmer whilst stirring till this has all dissolved into the water. You now have some stock to work with.
~   Carefully pour the liquid fat that has risen to the top of the jug into a large-ish saucepan, if there isn’t much add a little olive oil or similar.
~   Put over a medium heat and stir in enough flour to make a soft paste.
~   Cook gently, stirring for a couple of minutes.
~   Whisk in the stock you just made in the roasting pan together with the meat juices left in the jug after pouring off the fat.
~   Turn up the heat and bring to the boil whisking constantly; the mixture will thicken.
~   If the resulting gravy is too thick thin it down to your ideal gravy consistency with hot water or, even better, the water the potatoes or vegetables are cooking in, or homemade stock (see below) or even stock made from a cube if that’s all you have.
~   Taste and season.


PS.  People, myself included, often make gravy directly in the roasting pan but as it takes up a lot of room on the stove and as whisking is easier in a deeper pot this is the way I always recommend to others.

You may like to add a little something in the form of a splash of red or white wine or, particularly good in turkey gravy, dry sherry. Add apple sauce and/or dry cider to pork gravy or caramelised onions to beef.  This is good try a little black garlic stirred into beef gravy, let it sit for a few minutes to infuse flavours before serving.

*** Resting – all roast, grilled and fried meats benefit from a few minutes rest in a warm place before serving. During this time the meat fibres relax resulting in juicier more tender meat. The bigger the lump of meat the longer the rest. Give a roast 20 minutes to half an hour (which is handy because you then have time to cook the Yorkshire Puddings using this brilliant recipe which makes 6 for under 30p; I have 1 and my real man has 5)

Homemade Stock

If you are just cooking a small roast for two or three then you’ll probably have all the stock you need using the above method but if you do need more here are a couple of ideas but be warned they both involve thinking ahead.

Beef Stock 

When I am trimming steaks or cutting up meat to braise or stew or if I have any meat scraps I add them to my collection in the freezer till I have enough (say 500g or more) to make this worthwhile.  Fat, sinew and gore are all fine!

~   Defrost the scraps.
~   Cut a whole onion, a carrot or two and maybe a bit of celery into chunks.
~   Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large pan and add the vegetables and all the beef bits.
~   Cook over high heat, stirring occasionally, till everything is well browned.
~   Add enough water to cover generously but DO NOT add salt because when the stock is reduced the salt will become overpowering. Bring to a boil, cover, turn down the heat and simmer for ages and ages; at least two hours, till you have a rich brown stock.  

~   Strain into a clean pan discarding the solids (if you know a dog you could discard them in his direction).
~   Add half as much red wine as there is stock and boil till the liquid had reduced by 75%.
~   Cool, pour into an airtight container, cover and chill.


This keeps very well in the fridge; as it cools the fat rises to the top and solidifies thus sealing the dish. It can be frozen, freeze in cubes as it is strong and you may only need a little at a time – homemade stock cubes!

This not-classic stock has served me very well; I like to add a spoonful to sautéed mushrooms, to steak pans when deglazing, to creamy sauces, and to anything that could do with a beefy boost. The fat can even be used to fry your next steak!

Chicken Stock (good for other poultry and even for pork)

I have written about this before so here is how to make easy roast chicken stock.  Obviously you can’t do it with the chicken you are about to serve but if you do it with every carcass and freeze the stock you will have a roll on effect.

Related to gravy are pan sauces so, before you go, have a look here ~ How to Make a Delicious Pan Sauce in Minutes.

Marco Pierre White on Gravy!

I mention him, of course, because of the Knorr adverts for stock cubes. When I was a gal and was in the Good Food Guide it was their policy to drop any chef that advertised instant foods. Just saying. The Guardian' Rachel Cooke actually asked him about stock cubes, thus ...

     You might expect a professional chef to be cheered by the thought of a regular person boiling up bones the old-fashioned way. But not, it seems, Marco. “It’s very hard to make proper stock at home,” he instructs. “You haven’t got the pans.”

   But my pans are just fine, and at least homemade stock isn’t fluorescent yellow, as stock made from cubes tends to be.

    “OK, you’re posher than me!” he shouts. “I’m just a council-house boy. But then, I look at the flavour, not the colour.”

   Well, er, I don’t much like the flavour of stock cubes much, either.

     “All I’m saying is: add a stock cube to whatever you’re making, just for the body. That’s all. OK? OK?”

So there you have it!


SarahC said...

Yes, what are 'gravy granules'? LOL.
If I've made roast potatoes I keep the pre-cooking water back and use that (with a good slosh of alcohol too, usually) to add to the roasting pan instead of plain water; if not, I just ladle in a spoonful of water or two from the veg that I'm cooking on the stove top, whilst I'm making the gravy.

Suzy Bowler said...

Absolutely! Where do you slosh the alcohol - mouth, pan or both?