Canned gravy is convenient, but it's nowhere near as good as homemade. Find the middle ground between convenience and flavor by doctoring up a store-bought version. Infusing the gravy with a few ingredients takes a fraction of the time of homemade gravy, but it will be a vast improvement over bland jarred versions.
Make canned gravy taste fresher by simmering it with aromatics. Fresh or dried herbs, like bay leaves, thyme, rosemary, parsley, tarragon or sage, will do wonders for improving store-bought gravy. Try sauteing a clove of minced garlic in a touch of butter before adding the gravy and herbs.
Saute minced or finely diced vegetables to infuse the gravy with much-needed flavor. Try sauteing mushrooms, shallots or onions in a bit of butter until they become golden-brown. If you're roasting meat, consider resting the meat on a layer of carrots, celery and onions. Chop up the cooked vegetables after the meat is ready, then add them to the gravy as it heats up. If you prefer your gravy silken and smooth, strain out the vegetables before serving. Even without solid pieces of vegetable, your canned gravy will be remarkably tastier.
Umami is the name given to savory flavors, something your canned gravy may be lacking. Foods rich in umami include soy sauce, tomatoes and mushrooms. Yeast extract spread, a condiment more often used in Europe and Australia, is a potent source of umami. Try adding a tablespoon or two of soy sauce, tomato paste or yeast extract spread to the gravy to strengthen the savory flavor.
If you're roasting meat, reserve its drippings. Perhaps the most effective way of improving store-bought gravy, tiny bits of cooked meat and juices are packed with flavor and will help the gravy better complement the meat. After removing the meat from a flame-proof dish, like a roasting pan, cast iron skillet or dutch oven, set the dish on a burner over medium-high heat. Pour a few tablespoons of water, stock or wine into the pan and scrape the bottom with a wooden spoon. Strain the solids out of the liquid, then combine this flavorful juice with your gravy as it heats.