Why you should be making your own gravy this Christmas and every other occasion
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Perhaps my exposure and appreciation for a good ole’ jus is to blame for this, but I know I’m not alone. From roasting the bones for your stock base to pouring the thickened sauce over your perfectly roasted leg of lamb, there’s pure bliss in making your own gravy – plus the added satisfaction on your guests' faces as they enjoy the first moment of that velvety smooth gravy hitting their tongues. Trust me, there’s nothing better.
The store-bought packets that are “chicken or lamb flavoured” just don’t do it for me.
Inspecting the list of ingredients in a packet of instant gravy, you'll see that almost nothing screams “natural” and when anything has a shelf-life longer than fresh milk, that’s when you know it’s not exactly the best thing to be putting in your body.
The components for a homemade gravy however, include fresh ingredients like stock, fresh herbs and vegetables - of which you know exactly where they were sourced.
Basic gravy equation = flour + butter to make a roux + your stock + time to simmer.
Instant gravy almost never tastes like the meat it proclaims to be flavoured with. It’s usually a terrible lamb impersonation if you ask me. The secret ingredient of flavour in gravy? Those juicy oily drippings from the roasting pan. If your drippings have hardened on the tray use some boiling water to deglaze the pan and add that mixture to your gravy. Don’t be afraid to add butter at the end as well, this will result in a richer flavour and leave a beautiful glossy-looking gravy.
With a 34g packet of gravy, there’s never enough to go around the whole table - with chances of it being too runny, thick and floury. (It’s what gravy nightmares are made of!) You’re likely to get about 1 to 1 and a half cups of gravy out of an instant packet and if the whole family is coming over for Christmas dinner, you're screwed.
You need to make use of at least 2 litres of water in your stock base, keeping in mind it will reduce. Don't be afraid of making an excess amount of stock that can be frozen and reused for soups, future gravies and stews.
Tips to saving gravies:
- Strain your gravy or use an emulsion (stick) blender to remove any lumps.
- Make your gravy thicker by reducing it on the stove. However, this will reduce the volume of your gravy so beware.
- Add more flour (carefully!) Add about 2 teaspoons cornflour to a separate bowl and add some of the stock to form a loose paste, once all the flour has been mixed in, transfer the paste to your gravy pot and whisk in ensuring no lumps and allow to simmer until you reach your desired consistency.
- Add more stock to your gravy to achieve a more pourable consistency. How will you know that your gravy is the right consistency? It should coat the back of a spoon evenly and hold it's shape when you run your finger down the middle of the spoon.
Yes, gravy does seem like a lot of work but it's one of those wonderful items which can be made ahead of time and reheated when needed. This will save you so much time to get other things done in the kitchen.
Try our recipe for a perfect gravy.
Your future dinner parties, Christmas lunches and more are bound to be finger licking feasts from now on.