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Oct 11, 2010 05:19 AM

Gravy advice

I'm looking for some tips for gravy. I like a nice meaty tasting gravy, and I try to use the stock from last weeks sunday roast for next weeks gravy. Usually roast chicken.

So what I usually do it melt the frozen stock, take out the chicken and deglaze the roasting tray on the hob.
Question 1: What vinegar is the best? I currently use sherry vinegar
Question 2: How much should I use?
Question 3: Should I be using wine as well? I do currently (red)

Then I add the stock once the pan contents have reduced significantly. Yesterdays was a little sweet, perhaps due to the addition of so much veg in the making of the stock, and perhaps a little on the zingy side after a bit too much vinegar.

I tend not to add flour, as I quite like a thin gravy. Any other tips? There seems to be a billion ways of doing it, and even the most painstaking ways never seem to work for me. I might resort to saving the stock for a soup and use granules instead.

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  1. I never add flour as I don't like the texture of flour-thickened gravies. I like to add whipping cream and then mount the gravy with butter, but since you like thin gravies that may not be an option.

    2 Replies
    1. re: souschef

      I tend not to seperate out the fat, and if I'm cooking spinach, I add any left over spinach-butter, but I wouldn't put in any more. (especially considering I got through about a whole pack of 250g yesterday!)

      1. re: Soop

        Mounting with butter is a different effect than just leaving the fat in the pan. It thickens the sauce slightly without a starchy consistency or mouthfeel, and sort of smooths out sharper flavors without dulling any subtleties of the sauce. Mount with butter as a last step, off the heat - you want to incorporate small amounts of butter at a time while agitating to introduce air, letting each pat dissolve into the sauce before adding more. The point is to keep the butterfat from separating from the milk solids.

        If you're already leaving the fat from the roast in the pan (implying you're not fat-phobic) you might like the effect of removing the fat leftover from the roast and instead mounting with butter at the end. It's certainly worth trying once.

    2. I am a thin, meaty gravy lover myself.
      Try subbing out the vinegar for lemon juice
      White wine for fowl, red wine for red meat.
      I essentially make mine the same way you do, but I definitely use wine and lemon juice, then add a decent sized dollop of butter near the end.

      3 Replies
      1. re: gordeaux

        lemon juice eh? Hey what about balsamic? I've got quite a lot of that, and it might give a bite without the sweetness of the sherry.

        And I suppose there's always soy, or even nam pla fish sauce.

        1. re: Soop

          I'd assume balsamic vinegar would give it a sweet tinge as well.
          Fish sauce would be a shocking add in. I'd like it, but it would shock diners. Now you got me thinking. Oyster sauce, chile garlic sauce, and lime juice might be worth a trial.

          1. re: gordeaux

            if you do, let me know. I only really cook for my girlfriend, but then I think she does tend to like normal gravy. She might be up for the fish sauce though.

      2. Brown flour in chicken fat, then add homemade chicken stock, all of the pan drippings, salt, pepper, white wine and simmer untilt the right texture is reached.

        4 Replies
        1. re: tldmatrix

          The reason I like the deglazing is that it's easy to cook out the alcohol. I did it the otherway once, and in a fit of amateurishness, made a slightly alcoholic gravy...

          1. re: tldmatrix

            Well said tldmatrix,

            A dash of wine in the roasting pan with the scrapings is all well and good,

            but a family meal needs a gravy boat, full.

            1. re: Naguere

              That's something I need. I use a cup at the moment...

              1. re: Soop

                I use a thermally insulated gravy carafe like this one.

                Keeps the gravy warm through the entire meal. In fact I am getting another one.

          2. I add a couple of tablespoons of Knorr Demi Glace at the end, for a thin gravy with good color and flavor. Once in awhile I have real demi glace, or even brown stock, but usually the short cut method is OK.

            8 Replies
            1. re: jayt90

              I routinely make dark chicken stock from chicken carcasses and then reduce that down into a demi glace, which I freeze in ice cube trays. I can get most of a tray full of demiglace from a single chicken carcass (wings included). Using a pressure cooker to make the stock, the process is really not too bad, taking just a few hours, most of it being just waiting.

              Adding a cube of demiglace to a sauce or gravy like this can really amp up the flavor and fullness. I haven't tried Knorr demi glace, but it's probably also a good idea.

              1. re: cowboyardee

                What's demiglace? I haven't heard of it. Sounds like a very reduced stock.

                  1. re: cowboyardee

                    So for a stock novice... is there any way of telling what I've made or when to stop when you've got what you wanted?

                    1. re: Soop

                      Generally, i find the most useful consistency/thickness is that of a moderately thick salad dressing, not reduced all the way to a viscous syrup yet. That said, I've reduced to syrup consistency before, and that's still usable. Just don't burn it. It should be intensely flavorful.

                      There's not much to it. Make stock (i prefer dark stock made with browned meat and bones, but it doesn't have to be), skim all fat off, strain a bunch of times, reduce until salad dressing-like consistency, freeze.

                      1. re: cowboyardee

                        Can you just boil it down, pour out the liquid and then stick it in the freezer? that's what I've been doing...

                        1. re: Soop

                          I'm not positive what you're asking. If you're asking whether you can skip the straining and fat-skimming steps, then yeah you can. I strain and de-fat because i think the end product is more refined and useful, but neither fat or grit is gonna kill anyone. BTW, when you boil it down (versus simmering it), you emulsify some of the fat through the stock... it's also easier to burn or over-reduce that way, so heads up.

                          The important thing is that the stock is heavily reduced - i reduce my stock a little bit just to use it normally. Demiglace should be reduced enough to thicken noticeably while still hot.

                          1. re: cowboyardee

                            I didn't realise there was so much difference between boiling and simmering!

                            Right, thanks for the help, I'll pay more attention next time.

            2. Vinegar?!?!?! there's no vinegar in gravy....gack! ;-)

              Are you pouring off the fat before you deglaze? I always pour everything out of the roasting pan into a fat separator. Then I deglaze with white wine (for chicken). When the wine has cooked down, I add the stock and start reducing that. By the time it's almost done, the fat should have separated from the other chicken juices. Pour off the fat, add back the juice. Also the juice from the plate the chcicken has been standing on.

              I can't stand thick flour-y gravy either, but I do thicken mine very slightly with a flour/water slurry. I roast my chicken with thyme and bay under the skin so no herbs are necessary to add to the gravy.

              7 Replies
              1. re: danna

                That's the ticket. Defat, deglaze with wine (that'll boil off the alcohol), then add the stock.

                IMO a gravy made without any thickeners at all tends to lack body. But rather than making a slurry with flour, I like to use cornstarch. (Corn flour in the UK? Anyway, the isolated starch, not the ground grain.)

                A teaspoon of cornstarch per cup of liquid adds just a bit of texture; not enough to make the gravy thick; just enough to allow it to coat the food and give it some mouthfeel. And cornstarch is neutral: it doesn't add flavor, color, or opacity to the finished gravy.

                The best way to do it is to make a paste with a few drops of stock, then whisk the paste into the remaining stock before adding it to the pan. Mmmm, gravy...

                  1. re: alanbarnes

                    Yeah, I always thought it was cornflour you used. I think my grandma used to use it.

                    1. re: Soop

                      Both are traditional; it's just a matter of preference. The trick with either is moderation - too much of any thickener and your gravy turns to glop.

                  2. re: danna

                    I agree with Danna. I strain the solids from the liquid, then use a fat separator. I delgaze the pan with the separated liquid. Reduce a bit or add some stock if I need more or if it's too salty. I used to always use a cornstarch slurry, but after reading Ratio, I now typically use beurre manie - it's a paste made of butter & flour. I whisk this in, bring it to a gentle boil, then simmer until thickened. If some acid is needed I will squeeze a bit of lemon. I rarely use vinegar, occasionally I'll use wine, marsala, or sherry.

                    Now if I' making sausage or white country gravy, I pour out some of the fat or oil, add flour to make a roux, add spices & let the heat work it's magic, then I add milk. Stir constantly & let it come just to a boil. Then I add salt & pepper as neccessary.

                    1. re: danna

                      I'm with you completely on the method but I will say that vinegar can have a place in your gravy. Certainly not as one of the major, up front flavors, but just a bit to add some acidity or "brightness" to the finished sauce. This would be especially useful if you were not using wine to deglaze the pan.

                      1. re: kmcarr

                        I'm in agreement. There can be a lot of fat in a good gravy and a bit of mild vinegar adds a note of distinction that can brighten the flavors in the same way wine or lemon juice would.