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Cooking, early-mid 20th Century


How to make gravy taste rich and wholesome like Granny's

Based on watching my older family cook in my childhood


Disadvantages of the 'cookery book' method of making gravy

Thick tasty gravy is the making of a roast meal. Cookery books invariable advise making it by stirring flour into the fat left in the roasting pan once the roasted joint was taken out and then adding water or stock and heating the pan on the hob so that the flour thickened the liquid.

I have never liked what I call 'the cookery book method'. It seems unpredictable for quantities because there is no way of knowing whether too much or too little fat will be left in the pan after roasting. Too little fat doesn't mix the flour smoothly and makes the gravy lumpy, and too much makes the gravy taste greasy. Also making gravy this way takes my time and attention when I need to be attending to the accompaniments of the roast and serving up.

I am not alone in disliking 'the cookery book method'. Yet shop-bought gravy granules do not have the flavoursome taste that I want.

So I use my own method for making gravy which seems to be exceptionally well received by everyone who tastes it. Also it can be prepared in advance and saves on washing up. It is described below.

How to make gravy the easy and tasty way

Recipe for home-made gravy:The ingredients

Quantities of ingredients

I tend to make my gravy rather by guesswork in the knowledge that I could always add more flour if the gravy isn't thick enough or more water if it's too thick. Similarly I can add more dripping if the taste isn't strong enough. I do, though, stick to the guideline of one beef stock cube for two people.

My method for making gravy still gives the good old fashioned taste, but it frees me from having to do several jobs at once at serving time. I make it in advance at the start of preparing the main meal and just heat it up for serving.

If it appears from what follows that there are a lot of steps, this is not the case as most are just what you have to do anyway when cooking a roast. The significant difference is in the order of doing them.

Step 1

Parboil the root vegetables for roasting to make a stock for the gravy. This has to be done some time in advance anyway because vegetables can take an hour or more to roast. Try to include parsnips as well as potatoes as roast parsnips have a wonderful taste and give some of their taste to the water in which they are boiled. Save the water for the gravy and allow it to cool to room temperature.

Cloudy water from parboiled vegetables

Water from parboiled vegetables, cloudy because of the flavour given to it

Step 2

Also in advance put about 2mm of cold water with the flour into another saucepan, choosing one with a wide base. Flour mixes smoothly into cold water, but not in hot.

Flour for thickening in a few mm of cold water

Flour in a few mm of cold water in a separate saucepan

Flour for thickening being stirred and squashed into the cold water

Flour being stirred and squashed into the cold water

Provided that the saucepan is wide enough, you can go at the lumps and give them a good squash until you have a smooth paste. A flat bottomed wooden spatula is particularly effective for the squashing and later the stirring.

Step 3

Add the cooled water from parboiling the vegetables.

Gravy mixture before heating to thicken

Cooled liquid from parboiled vegetables being poured into the mixture of flour, dripping and stock cube.

Stock cube(s), dripping with flour water

Stock cube(s) being sprinkled in with one or more lumps of dripping

Gravy thickening in saucepan

Heated gravy thickening in saucepan

Sprinkle in the beef stock cube and a good lump of dripping and bring to the boil stirring all the time until the liquid thickens. Using a flat bottomed wooden spatula and stirring with a scraping motion prevents sticking and burning at the bottom of the saucepan.

Step 4

When thickened, the gravy is ready for the table, but as it has been prepared in advance, it must be removed from the heat until close to serving time.

Step 5

Because all this is done in advance, you can check the thickness of the gravy and add more flour if it is too thin, more water if it is too thick and more stock cube and dripping if the taste isn't strong enough. Any additional flour must be mixed into a paste with a little cold water first as adding it directly to hot gravy will make the gravy go lumpy. I like my gravy thick and my family and visitors all seem to like it this way too.

Gravy being served with a roast meal

Gravy being served with a roast meal

A few minutes before serving, reheat the gravy in the saucepan, stirring occasionally with the flat bottom wooden spatula. The scraping motion prevents sticking.

Finally dish up.


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