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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. http://www.amazon.com/Progressive-Int...

                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.

                    2. I make it as my mother made it.

                      I pour off some of the fat, add flour to make a roux, then add water (usually from any veg that are boiling). And that's it. A perfect pouring gravy packed with just the flavour of the meat you're cooking. Simples.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Harters

                        I add the flour to the fat (2T to 2T) as you do but then add chicken stock (2C). It's neither thick nor thin.

                      2. I'm not sure if this is what you're looking for, but it's really yummy... I roast chicken - moderately high heat - that has been rubbed with butter (and some put under the skin too) and salted - I prick a lemon or lime and put it in the cavity - the chicken roasts, the lemon/lime caramelizes... the butter sizzles, the fat and the juice all combine - when the chicken is done, remove the lemon/lime and squeeze it into the roasting pan - over a flame (don't use pyrex) add a little sherry, marsala, etc.... it's really great, just slightly viscose from the butter and very comforting (my mother uses vermouth).

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: harryharry

                          That's pretty much my method of roasting chicken - though sometimes I use an onion. Never thought about using the lemon for the gravy!

                        2. Any gravy we make in our home is made with stewing beef browned very well (crusty and all while pan is scraped over and over) in lots of butter then simmered with water to make a delicious meaty gravy, it's thickened at the end.

                          You can add this to your regular pan drippings too if you want.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: BamiaWruz

                            Are you saying you only make gravy when cooking/serving beef? I assume you wouldn't serve beef gravy with chicken :) Which is actually the time I most want gravy.

                            1. re: c oliver

                              I don't really eat gravy with chicken. If we were roasting a chicken and someone wanted gravy it's not an issue to use the drippings to whip some up. Our gravy is almost always beef, it is in itself a meal or part of a meal (mashed potatoes/gravy) (gravy/saurkraut) (gravy/potatoe pancakes and saurkraut) (gravy and spaetzle) (gravy and pasta) (perogies with gravy)
                              It's a sauce/goulash type of thing but it's just made of basic browned meat and water (seasoning, bay leaf) but the flavour is amazing.

                          2. I deglaze with red vermouth (for chicken and beef) not much maybe a quarter of a cup. Then make a slurry with a little cornstarch and water. Not enough to make a thick gravy but just enough to coat the back of a spoon. Salt and pepper to taste if more flavor is needed I may add a little knorr bullion cube.

                            1. I wouldn't think you would need both wine and vinegar. Both are acids. I would tend to use white wine as opposed to red. You could use a marsala. add some mushrooms. Maybe mount it with butter. Sweat some shallots.

                              If you don't think it tastes enough like chicken, you could add some "better than bouillon" chicken base. It is rather salty so compensate.

                              1. regarding red/white wine; I know there's been some business recently about wine tasters being unable to differentiate between red and white if they're both served at the same temperature. So following from that (and assuming it's true) the only real difference in gravy would be in colour, right?

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: Soop


                                  You're right. There was something on UK television in the last couple of months where they put a neutral dye into some white wine so it looked red and got a number of wine experts to taste. Basically, they recorded their taste notes as though it was a red.

                                  The difference in gravy between using a red or white wine will depend on the difference in taste between the two wines. And the relative "body". So gravy made with a thin, less than bone dry white wine is going to be different than using a full-bodied dry red.

                                  1. re: Soop

                                    Don't assume it's true. The 2001 study by Brochet only found that wine experts tend to use different adjectives to describe white wine when it's been dyed red than when it hasn't been. There was no indication that the wines were served at the same temperature, which would certainly account for some of the different perceptions. He also found that serving plonk in expensive bottles tended to improve the reviewers' perceptions of the wine.

                                    By contrast, oenology students at UC Davis are required to identify samples of different varietals by smell alone. No visual cues, no tasting, just the bouquet. Sometimes the students get not just the varietal but the color wrong. According to Professor Ann Noble (now retired), that happens about 5-10% of the time.

                                    Varietal is also significant. An intensely tannic young syrah is unmistakably a red wine, but I wouldn't be the rent that I could make the call with, say, a light pinot noir.

                                    All of which reminds me of my favorite bit of wine writing. In Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited, Charles and Sebastian raid the wine cellar, get plastered, and proceed to skewer the purple prose too often employed by those who write about the stuff:

                                    “It is a little, shy wine, like a gazelle.”
                                    “Like a leprechaun.”
                                    “Dappled, in a tapestry meadow.”
                                    “Like a flute by still water.”
                                    “And this is a wise old wine.”
                                    “A prophet in a cave.”
                                    “And this is a necklace of pearls on a white neck.”
                                    “Like a swan.”
                                    “Like a unicorn.”

                                    1. re: alanbarnes

                                      Lol, love it AB. Reminds me of the time I went to a whisky tasting and we were asked our opinions. Not being a big whisky drinker, when asked my opinion I said "it tastes like cardboard". The guy actually agreed with me, but apparantly that's not a bad thing.

                                      Interesting to know the details, I think I read about that some time ago in a newspaper (actually, it may have been citing a different experiment, but who knows), but I guess that's the difference - you read the source, I read someone elses view of it. Still, I drink red wine with chicken, might as well use it for the gravy.

                                      1. re: Soop

                                        Works for me, although I've made a few purple gravies using intensely-colored red wines. Another approach (credit to Julia Child) is to keep white vermouth on hand and use it for cooking and deglazing purposes. It has a better shelf life than table wine (although it's not indefinite) and the aromatics add a little complexity of flavor.

                                  2. anyone here using tapioca as a thickener, as they did recently on america's test kitchen?

                                    1. My gravy secrets: a splash of port and/or a drizzle of soy sauce.

                                      1. My favorite gravy comes from my favorite way to cook a chicken.

                                        1 carrot
                                        1 celery talk
                                        1/2 large sweet onion
                                        Handful of cherry tomatoes
                                        5 cloves of garlic
                                        Ground sage

                                        Chop the aromatics rather fine and place in a large mixing bowl add a good glug of olive oil and add all your spices. Mix this up. Put the whole chicken in the bowl and roll it around, give it a good massage and rub the flavors in. Put the chicken in a dutch oven, pour the aromatics over the chicken and cover with the lid. Place in an oven at 375 for an hour and 15 or so then uncover and let the chicken brown up. Should take another 30 to 45 mins.

                                        Now to the gravy. Lift the chicken out of the dutch oven, put the pan over medium heat and stir for a minute or so. (yes leave all the carrot, celery, onion and tomatoe bits in the pan) add about 4 tablespoons of flour (or however many you would like to make the gravy as thick as you want. I like a thick creamy gravy) Stirring constantly cook the flour mixuture for 3 -4 minutes. When it's well mixed begin adding milk a half cup at a time. You will use around 2 cups plus. Keep stirring and letting it cook.

                                        I could drink this stuff as a beverage.


                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                          Wow, that's very different! Might give that a try. milk gravy...

                                          1. re: JuniorBalloon

                                            i like your milk gravy, and would love it over some rice!

                                            1. re: alkapal

                                              "rice and gravy" is my fave (fattening) go to meal and kids love it. use ground beef or turkey in place of sausage if your were making gravy for biscuits. fast, cheap, filling and YUM.

                                              My other gravy rules, always a dash of Worchestershire, TONS of pepper, and if you're making mashed potatoes, save the potato water and use it to thin out if you need to. Whisk whisk whisk to keep it from getting lumpy.

                                              1. re: Whosyerkitty

                                                Made my Sausage cream gravy too peppery 2 nights ago. I didn't think that was possible but I manage to do it somehow. I'm still thinking it was the sausage and not my heavy hand with the pepper grinder. But, on the plus side my biscuits were good. I had to call off the 8 year old before he snarfed up a 5th one.

                                                Although an all-time favorite "gravy and..." meal will still be beef (or venison if I can get it) Heart and gravy over rice. Num num nummmy num. And as mentioned above, port does amazing things in gravy, stew, etc.