How to make gravy (the easy way)
Stressed about the gravy? Relax. Gravy is not alchemy; it’s not heart-attack-in-a-boat; and anyone claiming divine right to make it every year has a bad attitude, not a secret skill. Gravy is liquid, usually flavourful broth, thickened with starch. That’s all.
- Start with chicken, turkey, beef, or vegetable broth, homemade or low-salt store bought. Reduce it in a saucepan over high heat until about a third to half has boiled away.
- Optional flavour boost: if the bottom of the roasting pan looks delicious, not burnt, strain drippings into a heat-proof measuring cup. Slowly skim off fat from the cup, leaving just enough to feel naughty. Place roasting pan over medium-high heat, pour in a healthy glass of wine (or broth), and scrape up stuck-on brown bits. Add this wine mixture and the liquid in the cup to the reduced broth.
- Gravy is usually thickened with roux: for each cup of reduced broth, melt 1 tbsp butter in a saucepan over medium heat, and add an equal amount of flour. Cook the roux, stirring, until it smells a bit like toast. More browning adds flavour and colour but reduces thickening power. Whisk roux into the hot broth, and simmer a few more minutes.
Now, adjust. Add salt, pepper, and fresh herbs to taste. Too thick, add broth. Too thin, whisk in a slurry of cornstarch and water, a bit at a time. Lumpy? Strain it. If a secret ingredient gives you a thrill, a little soy sauce, miso, nutritional yeast, or even MSG will add a savoury, umami boost. Just be careful; it’s not secret if everyone can taste it.