Tricks for Making the Perfect Gravy
Gravy Shouldn't Be a Culinary Nightmare
Have you ever been invited out to dinner somewhere and when you sampled the gravy, you found bits of gristle or small lumps or noticed pools of grease living on the top? Nothing could be more unappetizing. Some cooks ruin what could have been perfectly good gravy. They never seem to master the art of making good gravy.
Or you might find when making it yourself, you encounter similar problems. How do you produce perfectly smooth gravy? How do you stop the flour from clumping and getting lumpy? And how to effectively combat the grease? You already know that skimming it off the top with a spoon isn't entirely effective.
This article will discuss tricks for making near-perfect gravy every time. Some of these ideas may be new to you. By the time you finish reading, you will be better-equipped to make gravy as it should be and not as a mere wannabe.
Are You Leaving Some of the Flavor Behind?
Before even addressing lumps or grease, your first step should be to remove your meat from your roasting pan and lightly simmer your meat juice, running your wooden spoon around the ring that has formed in your roaster. There's flavor lurking in that meat juice that has cooked onto the sides of your roaster and you want to incorporate that into any liquid in the pan.
Once you've run your wooden spoon around your roasting pan and scraped off the cooked-on meat juice, you want to make sure to not neglect the next important step.
Do You Serve Gristle Gravy?
Your gravy shouldn't be a landmine of hidden bits and pieces.
Straining Your Gravy
As surprising as it may seem, some cooks neglect to strain their meat juice, and bits of fat and gristle and even small bone shards or burned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan remain to spoil the gravy. This is an important second step and one that shouldn't be neglected. You will need a fine metal mesh strainer that you will place over a pot, to strain the juice from the roasting pan.
Love Gravy But Not the Grease?
Many of us absolutely love, love, love gravy but could well pass on the grease. Small pools of it floating on top or a shiny layer not only looks unappetizing but it truly ruins what could have been a tasty topping for creamy mashed potatoes and meat.
Not only that, that layer of liquid fat adds extra calories and can leave one feeling decidedly queasy. Many of the usual methods for removing grease don't really don't do the job effectively.
- Tilting: Many cooks do their best to remove the grease from meat juice by tilting their roasting pan or pot, allowing the grease to pool on the lower end, and then they try pouring it off.
- Spooning: They may then resort to trying to skim off the rest with a spoon. If you have ever done this, you know you chase the fat around and around and in spite of your best efforts, a thin layer remains.
- Post-Thickening: Other cooks make their gravy first, then try to remove the grease as it forms on top of the thickened gravy. The thicker gravy goes to the bottom and the fat sits on top, so it's easy to see but not quite as easy to remove.
You may have found yourself thinking, there's got to be a better way. Rest assured, there is!
Take this one step and your gravy will be near-perfect.
A Neat Trick to Remove Grease From Gravy
This method is one of the best ways to easily remove almost all of the grease from meat juice before you turn it into thickened gravy. Cook your meat ahead of time. After you've strained your meat juice through your fine metal strainer, place your pot in the freezer. Leave until it is frozen.
Why do you do this? Because the fat will separate from the juice and rise to the top, and more importantly, it will freeze into a solid white-colored disc that can be lifted out in one piece. Once you've lifted out the solidified grease you can make your gravy.
Smooth or Lumpy?
Gravy should be smooth but that is not always the case. While it might seem relatively simple to make a lump-free gravy, many cooks struggle with it. What could go wrong with so few ingredients? Much can and does.
How to Thicken Gravy Without Lumps
You may have strained and gotten a nice smooth liquid, you may have vanquished the grease, but now comes what could be said to be the Waterloo for most cooks. And this make-or-break scenario happens when cooks try to thicken their gravy. Lumps! While flour gives a good flavor to gravy and some cooks prefer it over corn starch, using flour can be tricky and if you don't mix it just right, you set the stage for lumps.
There's light at the end of the gravy train, though. Making lump-free gravy with flour is doable—but it's not simply a matter of mixing flour and water, adding it to meat juice, and hoping for the best, as many cooks have discovered.
Gravy Made With Flour
- Place 1-2 tbsp of flour and enough water to cover it in a plastic container. Put a lid on and shake it well. Make sure you add enough water so that you get a slightly thickened but still runny mixture. This method of shaking in a container works well to combat lumping and is far more effective than trying to stir water and flour together without lumps appearing.
- Place water and flour in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Use a dusting flour and use either of the methods above.
- Add this mixture to lightly simmering meat juice and stir with a whisk while it thickens, to produce smooth gravy. A whisk does a better job than a wooden spoon for ensuring that all is incorporated and that lumps do not form.
A Roux Means Velvety-Smooth Gravy
Another method is to make a roux. If you've ever made a white sauce, you will be familiar with the process. The video below shows how this is done. With butter as part of the mix, a gravy made this way has a rich flavor and is perfect for topping chicken, turkey, ham or homemade noodles. Roux is the basis of creamy mushroom gravies, as well.
Gravy Made With Corn Starch
- Using corn starch is by far the easiest way to achieve perfect lump-free gravy. You simply add 1 to 3 tbsp of cornstarch to a cup, add in enough water to mix it, and mix with a fork until corn starch is dissolved.
- You add this mixture to simmering meat juice and use a whisk to stir it in, then allow the mixture to gently simmer until it thickens, stirring occasionally.
- Adjust amounts, as necessary. If gravy is too runny, mix more of the corn starch with water and add to mixture. If gravy is too thick, add more water to your meat broth and simmer and stir until you've achieved the desired consistency.
Tip for More Juice
I always add a little extra water to my roasting pan when I'm cooking a roast or a chicken or turkey. This prevents the meat juice from drying out and burning on the bottom of the pan and also results in more liquid to make gravy with.
What's Your Biggest Gravy-Making Challenge?
© 2017 Athlyn Green