Gravy is the perfect recipe for autumn happiness and all the holidays that arrive. The smell of roasted chicken, mashed potatoes and all the trimmings is what makes Sunday dinner a much adored and longed for event in our home. Gravy is the essential ingredient that makes everything come together.
Allrecipes.com is my go-to destination for seeking out new recipes, discovering new cooking methods and finding inspiration from other home cooks. I love browsing the site for new ideas and always leave with a plethora of fresh approaches to traditional meals. For example, I had never tried cooking mashed potatoes in a slow cooker, but this recipe I found on the site—Slow Cooker Mashed Potatoes—motivated me to give it a try, because I’m always looking for time-saving kitchen tips.
My family always has Yorkshire pudding on the dining table, regardless whether we are feasting on roast beef or roast chicken—and while we love our family recipe, this Yorkshire pudding recipe is one I can’t wait to try this fall.
Sharing a Kitchen with My Mother-In-Law
My first cooking experience with my mother in-law was preparing a roast chicken. I remember it well because I was trying with all my might to appear that I knew what I was doing and to instill confidence in her that her son would not spend the rest of his life hungry. I had read a library of cookbooks and even tested a few trial roast chickens on my husband before this milestone meeting.
But I never gave any thought to the gravy. (A laughable offense, mainly because as much as the English love tea, they love gravy even more.) To this day I have the rules of roasting a chicken ingrained in my mind: 20 minutes at 180C (350° F) for every 500g (1 pound). I’m sure I would remember more of my first official roast chicken if it were not for the Dutch courage that carried me through the process. (Thank you, Cos Nero D’Avola 2001!) But this I can tell you……gravy makes the world much, much better. It can rescue even the most disastrous of birds. And—this is a big “and”—my husband makes perfect gravy. He learned how from his mother.
Alex’s Perfect Gravy
The trick with great gravy is that it takes time, love, and like the cook looking for courage, plenty of wine. It is best made while your bird rests on a carving board and it can be prepared in the same roasting pan to ensure every last molecule of flavor infuses the essence. Ideally, roasted celery, bacon, carrots, potatoes, garlic and onions make a great gravy base, but anything you roast with your bird will work as a starting point for gravy.
Generally there are no rules to measuring and no required ingredients for making gravy—except to keep the flour in your pantry and save it for your baking needs. Making gravy is all about instinct—so be creative and keep tasting until you have a delicious spoonful.
This list includes my essential gravy ingredients. Quantities are not included because the amounts may vary according to your taste and what’s in your pantry—and the roasting pan.
- Wine – Use plenty of it; I prefer to use white wine with chicken but if you have red on hand, this may also be used.
- Chicken Stock – You’ll want at least one pint (2 cups), maybe more if you like thinner gravy.
- Salt and crushed Black Pepper - Be mindful of the salt amount used. Most store-bought stock will have plenty of salt, so add it in small amounts and taste as you go. But do be generous with the crushed black pepper.
- Herbs - We often use a bay leaf and a small sprig of thyme. (Rosemary can be heavy, so use it sparingly.)
- Roasting Pan - Use all the left-over bits of roasted vegetables, bacon, onion, garlic, and chicken drippings that glisten with caramelized glory.
1. Place the roasting pan on the stove top or hob of your oven and pour in a glass (or two) of wine, plus the chicken stock. (Note: If you are using an enameled roasting pan, you cannot use the pan on a glass cooking surface. Be sure to check your pots before you start firing up the stove top so you are using the correct pan for the project.)
2. Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, taking care to use a wooden spatula to scrape all the brown bits at the bottom of the pan. Stir in the herbs, salt, and pepper according to taste. As you stir, the gravy will start to darken and thicken. Allow it to cook 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. You may want to use a potato masher to crush the excess vegetables and add volume to the sauce.
|Straining cooked veggies and stock from the roasting pan (Photo by Coryanne Ettiene)|
The result of this cooking process will be a gravy so aromatic, so rich with flavor and color, you will hang your head in shame for all the times you used flour to make gravy.
|A lovely bowl of gravy ready to bless mashed potatoes or turkey (Photo by Coryanne Ettiene)|
Note: Not using flour also means everyone at the table can enjoy this gravy. (In other words, rejoice! It's gluten-free!) You may store the gravy for up to three days in your fridge. If any is left from your holiday meal, try reusing it in a soup or stew.
What gravy-making tricks have you learned? Has your mother-in-law shared any useful cooking tips?