Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How to Make Perfect Gravy


I might not have thought this through very well...here I am with Thanksgiving staring me in the face tomorrow, and I've been planning to do a post on gravy, right?  Well...I'm certainly not going to be making gravy today, the day before Thanksgiving.  It's much more likely that I'll be flying around in a minor panic, trying to get the house cleaned and all the food prepped and, knowing my Type A self, the silverware washed by hand because our darn hard water always leaves water spots that make it look dirty.  So yeah, not making gravy just for a blog post today.

And yet...what's the point of posting a how-to for gravy the day AFTER Thanksgiving?!  None whatsoever. Yes, I know.  So I'm compromising: I'm going to post the recipe for this the day before Thanksgiving so somebody might possibly be able to benefit from it-- but without pictures.  Maybe I'll add pictures tomorrow, if I can remember to take any while the pre-dinner rush is on.

So. Gravy. You know, I spent the first three years of my marriage not making gravy. (We turn 3 in December, so you do the math.)  Actually, I think I made it a couple times in the beginning, but I was so frustrated with trying to find a ratio of ingredients that consistently worked that I finally gave up.  I don't really remember the details; I tend to block out negative experiences.  Also, and I have no idea how I managed to do this, but I married a man who doesn't like gravy.  Uh-- seriously?  Who does that?

Well, we've been eating a lot more meat and potatoes as winter sets in, and there's just a slight problem with that. One of everybody's favorite ways to turn cheap cuts into edible cuts is by crockpot. But for three years, recipe after recipe, I have consistently not liked pot roast. It was always tender and tasted fine, kinda...just boring. Except for the peppery soy sauce recipe, which had too much flavor rather than too little.  I was completely confused; hadn't I grown up loving pot roast? Why didn't I like it anymore, even using the childhood recipe? Was I going to have to spend my entire adult life not making roasts and trying to figure out what else to do with all of those non-hamburger packages in my freezer?  The horror!

I had an epiphany a couple weeks ago: gravy. It was so simple that I felt like an idiot, but seriously: gravy. Duh.

The next day I made pot roast, and informed my husband that there would be gravy accompanying it. Even more than that, I insisted that he please try the gravy before slathering his meat in ranch yet again. I was pretty well salivating with enthusiasm about the upcoming meal.  I even made mashed potatoes to go with it instead of just crockpotted chunks of potato. This was a big deal.

So I carefully measured out the proper ratio of flour, butter, and broth (yes, I did finally come up with the magic numbers) and whisked my little heart into that gravy...and then I tasted it and died and went to heaven. This is why mashed potatoes exist.  Rich and creamy and just the right amount of salty...oh man.  I called my long-suffering husband in for a spoonful and he graciously accepted it- and the look on his face changed from wariness to surprise. "Mm!"  I figured that was as far as I'd get on this victory, and I was lucky he'd tried it at all, so I was rather delighted a few minutes later when he came back out from the office for another spoonful. Yes, it was that good.

We dutifully put together our plates of food, and I drowned my meat and potatoes in gravy.  Rob put it on his meat but put ranch- as usual- on his potatoes. I looked askance at his poor choice, but let it go; gravy on his meat was still progress.  We sat down to eat.

And then I looked on in shock as he proceeded to eat half of his potatoes, then reach over for my plate and steal mine. The ones with the gravy.  I'm pretty sure I squawked (I don't take the holy duet of mashed potatoes and gravy lightly) but I didn't squawk too loudly...after all, I had just converted a gravy non-eater to an avid fan.

My only question is: what kind of gravy do you have to eat to think you don't like gravy?

PERFECT GRAVY
1 c. broth or drippings
2 T. flour (if you use sprouted flour, you'll need slightly more, like 2 1/2 T.)
2 T. butter
salt to taste, if needed

A quick note on the broth/drippings. You need strongly flavored broth for this to work and taste the best, so when I make pot roast, I cook it in beef broth to start with (not necessary) and as little liquid as I can.  Then I turn it over every few hours so the meat stays moist but the broth gets strong.  If you can't pay that much attention to your crockpot (which is the point, after all), you can use as much liquid as it takes, but boil off some of the excess water before turning it into gravy.

The recipe above is the ratio.  For each cup of broth, you'll need two tablespoons each of flour and butter. Obviously you can increase how much gravy you make as long as you keep the ratios.

In a saucepan, melt the butter and then whisk in the flour. Medium heat is about right. Let it cook for a minute or two to "brown" the flour, whisking periodically. Don't assume it's good just because the butter has incorporated all the flour-- if you don't let the flour cook a little, the final product will taste kind of paste-y.

When your roux is browned (usually this isn't visible; you just have to give it a couple of minutes and trust), pour in your broth/drippings.  Bring this to a boil and give it a couple minutes to thicken up. It will not reach its final consistency until it cools a bit, so resist the urge to add more thickeners of any sort, and just take it off the burner. Taste it, and add salt if it needs a little more kick.

I think it's pretty self explanatory from this point: it's NOM time!

This post is part of the Unprocessed Fridays blog hop hosted by Girl Meets Nourishment and the Barn Hop hosted by The Prairie Homestead.

2 comments :

  1. Nice job on converting your husband to gravy! Mine likes butter and sourcream on his mashed potatoes! Such a waste of good potatoes! Can't wait for the gravy tomorrow! And thanks for the ratios. Mine is always rather hit or miss as to whether it will turn out or not.

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    1. Yes, having an actual rule of thumb has saved my bacon in multiple situations...now it's not stressful when I need it to turn out, like with company...I swear food knows when it has pressure on it to perform well. :-)

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