Traditional Gravy

I have written about proper gravy and demonstrated it countless times, but still people ask, 'How do you make gravy?' Witness the horrors that line our supermarket shelves: cubes, packets and granules with long lists of chemicals, producing alien artificial flavour and instant gelatinous gloop – it's no wonder doctors are prescribing more antidepressants with people introducing such gloominess into their lives. But now is the time to move on and, once and for all, with the help of this recipe, everyone everywhere who wants to can make proper gravy for ever and ever. It really isn't hard, and there's nothing to be afraid of, so here goes.

Makes about 1 pint (570 ml)

This recipe is taken from How to Cook Book One.

Traditional Gravy
 the juices left in the roasting tin from cooking meat or poultry
 1 rounded tablespoon plain flour
 about 1 pint (570 ml) hot stock (potato or other vegetable water, for example), but the exact amount will depend on how thick you like your gravy
 salt and freshly milled black pepper
You will also need a solid-based, flameproof roasting tin.


First of all remove the meat or poultry from the roasting tin and have a bowl ready, then tilt the tin and you will see quite clearly the fat separating from the darker juices. So now you need to spoon off the fat into the bowl using a tablespoon, but remember, you need to leave 1-1½ tablespoons of fat in the tin.

Then, using a wooden spoon, scrape the sides and base of the tin to release any crusty bits, which are very important for flavour. Next, place the tin over direct heat turned fairly low and, when the fat and juices begin to sizzle, add the flour, then quickly dive in with the wooden spoon using brisk circular movements. Speed is of the essence – gentle, faint-hearted stirring is not what's needed here: you should be mixing in the manner of a speeded-up film!

Soon you will have a smooth paste, so now begin to add the hot stock, a little at a time, whisking briskly and blending after each addition. Now turn the heat up to medium and you will find that, as the stock is added and it reaches simmering point, the gravy will have thickened.

Now your own preference comes into play. If the gravy is too thin, let it bubble and reduce a little; if it's too thick, add a little more liquid. Finally, taste and season with salt and freshly milled black pepper, then pour the gravy into a warmed jug ready for the table.

For pork, which has pale juices, add onion to the roasting tin. This will caramelise during cooking and give colour to the juices. The onion may also be used with other joints and poultry to give colour.

For lamb, add a teaspoon of mustard powder with the flour, a tablespoon of redcurrant jelly to melt into the gravy, and some red wine to add body.

For duck, add the grated zest and juice of a small orange, along with a glass of port.

For beef, add a wineglass of Sercial Madeira – this enriches the beef flavour magically.

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