Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Good Gravy!

Making good gravy is a bit of a science experiment; although not a difficult one. But if there's a possibility of a shortcut to making something homemade, I'll try it! Some ideas turn out to be great and some turn out to be disasters. Even so, I say, "Take a risk!" But let me just save you the trouble of testing my gravy shortcut theory.
In my early cooking days, I always made gravy one way; by combining the flour and cold water in a lidded plastic container, used for shaking and pouring liquids. I deduced that if the water and flour mixture were to be hot before stirring into the pot, then the gravy would be on the table a whole lot quicker. Oh... how wrong I was!

I added the flour and water to my shaker container, and then put it in the microwave for about 30 seconds. I was very pleased with how nicely warmed the water was and what a genius idea this was going to turn out to be; and also wondering why no one had ever thought of it before? I popped the lid on the container and began to shake vigorously. That's when the lid exploded off like a rocket, rebounded off the ceiling and sprayed every corner of the kitchen and dining room area with white paste. We had popcorn ceilings in that old house, but after the gravy incident I started calling them papier mache ceilings.

I learned two important lessons that day. First, that something chemical happens to flour when it's mixed with a liquid and secondly, that the next time I wonder why no one has thought of my great idea, maybe I should re-think it myself.

I've made many more gravies since then; some perfect, some not, but I just consider it all practice. The formula is pretty basic, so I think it all comes down to technique when trying to make good gravy: Equal amounts of flour and fat, preferably meat drippings, and several minutes of constant whisking.

When I make something like a braised pot roast, I turn all the liquid into gravy. I combine about a 1/4 cup of flour and 1/4 cup cold water in a separate container, and then add in a touch of the hot cooking liquid to heat up the water. Then, while whisking the cooking liquid, I slowly pour the mixture into the pot. Cook and whisk over a medium heat until the cooking liquid thickens to my liking. This usually takes only a few minutes. When making turkey or chicken gravy to be served on the side, I make it from a small amount of the drippings, in a separate pan on the stove.

Practice is the key to good gravy, but until I get it right every time, I'm happy to note that a few lumps here and there seem to go fully unnoticed at my table of gravy goblins.

Basic Homemade Turkey Gravy

4 Tablespoons of the pan drippings (strained, if desired)
4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 Cups liquid (water, broth or milk)

Heat the pan drippings in a saucepan over medium-low heat and then sprinkle the flour over the drippings. Cook and whisk this mixture until it's combined and the flour begins to cook. When the flour is cooked (about 1 minute), remove the pan from the heat and slowly pour the desired liquid into the pan, while whisking constantly. When the liquid is combined, return the pan to the heat and continue whisking until the gravy is your preferred consistency. If it's too thick, whisk in a little more liquid. If it's too thin, combine 1-2 Tablespoons flour with an equal amount of cold water. Add in a touch of the hot gravy, to bring the water up to temp, and whisk into the pan.

Yield: 2 cups

1 comment:

  1. Great post Lorily; that is how I make my gravy.
    Love your story about the explosion;but I bet that was holy mess in your house.
    I have to go vist you in
    Going there right now.


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