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Tips for making good gravy.

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food_eater79 May 4, 2008 07:03 AM

How do you guys make gravies? I made a sort of chicken gravy yesterday to go with mashed potato and chicken thighs. I used about 4T of flour, 4T of the olive oil/chicken fat left in the pan, and about 16 oz of simmering chicken stock. Combined in a small pot, threw in a little S&P and whisked until lightly boiling for about 5 minutes. Came out very smooth, a little runny but very tasty. I've read that you can use corn starch and it can be thicker.

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    AnneM RE: food_eater79 May 4, 2008 07:25 AM

    I add liquid from the veggies, carrots,peas,potato, but my favorite liquid to add is from butternut squash.

    1. scoopG RE: food_eater79 May 4, 2008 07:28 AM

      That's what do - make a cornstarch slurry. Cornstarch mixed with cold stock or cold water. Add to the gravy mixture when it boils, then bring the mixture back to a boil and you are done. The more cornstarch mixture you add, the thicker the gravy will be.

      1. Ora RE: food_eater79 May 4, 2008 08:04 AM

        I tend to avoid thickners, but when I need one I use Wondra (instant flour).

        2 Replies
        1. re: Ora
          Mawrter RE: Ora May 4, 2008 08:56 PM

          Likewise. Wondra rules! And 4T sounds like too much to me, unless it was a heck of a lot of gravy.

          Sometimes you have to dump out some of the grease from the pan. It's helpful if you have a fat separator for that.

          Another great thickener if you do use one is potato starch - which is kosher.

          For those who really want to avoid adding a thickener, try reducing your stock before you even start adding it to the gravy.

          Taste before you add s/p. If you've salted the meat you may not even want to add salt.

          1. re: Mawrter
            Ora RE: Mawrter May 4, 2008 09:32 PM

            Agree on the too much flour point. I only use 1 tbsp Wondra per cup of liquid--sometimes even less if there are vegetables in the liquid.

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          Harters RE: food_eater79 May 4, 2008 08:26 AM

          Fat from the roast; a little flour and water from the veg. Occasionally a splash or two of wine. Whisk it in and cook it till the colour and texture look "right".

          1. paulj RE: food_eater79 May 4, 2008 09:17 AM

            Your version, using meat fat, flour, and stock, is the classic European style meat gravy or sauce. You can make it thicker by using more flour and fat, and less liquid. The same thing, but using milk or cream, gives a cream sauce, which can range from a cream soup thickness to a stiff, binding paste.

            A cornstarch slurry is an easy way of thickening a liquid, since you can add it directly to the hot liquid (no separate pan of fat and flour). It does not add any flavor, and it produces a translucent sauce. This is more typical of the sauce on Chinese stirfry dishes. It also works well in fruit sauces.

            Wondra is wheat flour that has been treated so it can be used more like cornstarch. Arrowroot is another thickener that works in a slurry. Indian stews are often depend on thoroughly cooked onions for thickening. Chili cooks like to use a masa (tortilla corn flour) slurry.

            paulj

            1 Reply
            1. re: paulj
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              mar52 RE: paulj May 4, 2008 09:39 AM

              I add flour to the pan drippings, scraping up the little bits of flavor stuck to the bottom. Sometimes I need to add a little oil first. I use vegetable oil because I don't want the flavor of another. I'm basically making a roux. Then I add some sort of stock, vegetable soaking liquid or milk... whatever kind I'm making.

              Sometimes just stir and sometimes if I'm making a lot it goes into the blender.

              I don't add flour to the liquid in the pan....ever. Sometimes I'll put a little liquid in a jar with a little flour and shake it up and then add it to the pan with a lot of meat juices and then stir it all in.

              A pinch of sugar helps too!

              If you want a little darker gravy, Kitchen Bouquet does the trick.

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              gordeaux RE: food_eater79 May 4, 2008 10:14 AM

              I also rarely use a powder thickener (flour, cornstarch.)
              Pan drippings, caramelized bits, olive oil, salt, fresh pepper, lemon juice, red or white wine, garlic, stock, finish with a bit of butter - done. Maybe an herb or two - whatever would work well (rosemary/thyme/basil/etc.) Thick gravy kind of gets gross. I reduce my gravy to thicken it. It makes the meal less "heavy" as well. More of an au jus than a gravy.

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                irishnyc RE: food_eater79 May 4, 2008 10:27 AM

                I make a roux with the drippings and fat left in the pan, letting it get about peanut butter colored, then I add the appropriate stock, season with whatever the meat was seasoned with, and cook slowly until it's the thickness that I want.

                3 Replies
                1. re: irishnyc
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                  rexsreine RE: irishnyc May 4, 2008 11:10 AM

                  I am a roux person myself. Cornstarch slurry produces too shiny a gravy, in my opinion. My mother always did a flour/water slurry and that's what I was used to - till I tried the roux method with the flour being cooked in the fat before liquid is added. Tastes so much fuller and richer. Alton Brown explains that flour/water slurry mixtures must cook an hour to get rid of the raw flour taste. Fine - if you've got an hour. Even so, you won't get the flavor that the roux method gives, even a blond roux.

                  Ginny

                  1. re: rexsreine
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                    food_eater79 RE: rexsreine May 4, 2008 11:14 AM

                    Thanks, I never really knew what people were talking about when they say "roux".

                    1. re: rexsreine
                      Caroline1 RE: rexsreine May 4, 2008 04:44 PM

                      I don't much care for a conrstarch slurry for gravies, as in chicken or beef, because it will "re-liquify" if you overheat it. But I do use it with Asian dishes in my wok where I add it at the last minute and the bulk of the food keeps it from reliquifying. Well, so does turning off the fire!

                  2. hondo77 RE: food_eater79 May 5, 2008 11:42 AM

                    That's what I do for my fried chicken gravy except I use milk instead of stock. Other gravies get stock but this one gets milk.

                    1. danhole RE: food_eater79 May 5, 2008 12:02 PM

                      My husband's grandmother taught me to use a mix of half cornstarch and half flour. Season that mix with salt & pepper (if needed) and then make a slurry out of that. You get the best of both worlds. A touch of butter at the end is good, too.

                      If I am making a creamy gravy I use a roux.

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