With US Thanksgiving coming up, making gravy is on a lot of people’s plates (pun intended). Rather than just using a package of gravy thickener, why not try making real gravy from scratch?
Before cornstarch, Bisto, and gravy packages, most gravies and thickened sauces were made with a Roux (pronounced “roo”). Roux is a mix of fat and flour that’s cooked until blended, and then used as a thickener for sauces.
The recipe? Equal parts fat and flour. The fat is usually butter, but you can use bacon fat, vegetable oil, or any other fat. For a small batch, it could be a couple tablespoons, or if you’re feeding a huge family, as much as a cup each of butter and flour.
Put the fat into a saucepan and heat on medium until the fat is melted. Slowly sprinkle the flour over it and stir, until they’re combined. The result should be a wet paste. If it clumps into chunks, you need to add more fat. Let it cook for 2-30 minutes, stirring gently, depending on how dark you want it.
The more you cook a roux, the more it will darken, and become more flavourful, but the less it will thicken a sauce. Cajun roux is cooked until brown, and pretty much doesn’t thicken at all, whereas a white roux is only cooked for a few minutes, but doesn’t have much flavour. Once the roux has reached the desired consistency, slowly add liquid to it, stirring constantly. For a gravy, this would be water with drippings from a turkey or roast. You can get a great measuring cup that separates the fats from the drippings. Add some liquid, stir, add a little more, stir, and so on.
You can also make the roux ahead of time and refrigerate it. If you’re doing this, then take the water and drippings and put them into a pan and heat to a boil. Season with salt and pepper, then add the roux. Reduce heat to low, and gently whisk until thickened.
So, yeah, this isn’t the most low-fat gravy ever, but it’s ridiculously tasty, uses good fats, and hell, it’s the holidays and having a real gravy is worth it!