Gravy is intimidating to many cooks, especially if it's something they only make for holiday meals. It's easy to make gravy -- it's just liquid thickened with starch -- but doing it well requires a bit more finesse. The flavors should be light and well-balanced, and the gravy should be thick enough to cling to the food without being sticky or stodgy. You can make homemade gravy with nothing more than a simple roux and some whipping cream, or vary the flavor with broth or meat drippings.
Measure equal quantities of flour and a suitable fat, such as butter, cooking oil or drippings from a roast, into a small skillet or saucepan. Heat the pan gently, stirring constantly, until the mixture is a uniform paste with a pale golden color. This is your roux. To thicken 2 cups of gravy, your roux will need 2 to 3 tablespoons each of flour and fat.
Pour 2 cups of cold whipping cream into the pan, whisking vigorously until the roux is thoroughly dissolved into the liquid. Bring the cream to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer
Season the cream gravy lightly with salt and pepper, or other seasonings as desired. Stir it constantly for 8 to 10 minutes, until the roux thickens and gains a smooth, velvety consistency. If any lumps develop, break them up with a fork or whisk and dissolve them into the cream.
Taste the gravy and adjust the seasoning if necessary. If it has a noticeably starchy flavor, reduce the heat slightly and let it cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Stir constantly, to prevent the gravy from sticking and scorching. If it becomes too thick, thin it with a small amount of extra cream or milk.
Strain the gravy to remove any remaining lumps, then serve it hot with biscuits, chicken, chicken-fried steak or other comfort foods.
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- Professional Cooking; Wayne Gisslen
- Fine Cooking: How to Make and Use a Roux
- A dairy-only gravy is usually referred to as a white gravy or country gravy. These gravies are convenient because they require no meat broth or cooking juices. Their flavor can be varied by using the fatty drippings from sausage, pork, chicken or other meats as the fat for the roux.
- A classic roux calls for equal parts flour and butter by weight, rather than volume, but for small quantities accuracy isn't important. Use a tablespoon if you wish, and just add slightly more flour than fat.
- Make a lighter country gravy by substituting half-and-half, or adding some milk to the whipping cream. Alternatively use broth or the cooking juices from a roast as your primary liquid, for a meaty flavor, then add whipping cream for additional richness and smoothness.
Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.