How to Make Foolproof Gravy from Scratch

So I planned this to be a step-by-step, photo by photo explanation of how I make gravy from a roast.  What I forgot, however, is that making gravy is a bit of a frenzied flourish (at least the way I do it), that often requires both hands and a third if you’ve got it handy.  So I took a lot fewer pictures than I realised, and now I may have to do this post again next time I make a Sunday roast, only this time I’ll have an assistant to take all the photos.

Follow the steps below and you’ll have lump-free, perfect gravy every time.  All you need is a fat separator, a whisk and a roasting tray you can heat over the elements.

Step 1: Get yer bird ready.  I like to roast my chicken not on a rack, but on a strategically placed bed of carrots, onions and celery.  Make sure none are protruding out, as they will burn, otherwise they will roast nicely, basted in fat and chicken juice.  They make a delicious pre-roast snack.

I also prepare my bird quite simply – a lot of salt all over the top, a good rub of olive oil (or butter – whatever you have to hand). I also always sprinkle dried poultry seasoning I bring from Canada.  Its a mix of dried sage, thyme and probably something else, but its dry and fine enough that it won’t burn, and adds a subtle touch of a flavour.  An homage to my mom and 1980s cooking methods.

Step 2: Put the bird aside to rest, drain the juices and fat, deglaze the pan.  Once you’ve scooped the veg into a bowl, pour the liquid in the pan into a fat separator (I have a vintage pottery one that you can see in the final picture, but actually prefer the plastic measuring cup version).  Put the pan over a medium heat, add a dash of wine and scrape away all the delicious bits stuck to the side.  Add this to the fat separator.

Step 3: Make a slurry.  Take some fat (just the fat) out of the strainer, put it back in the pan over heat and mix with flour.  My dad has a crazy scientific ratio for this, but I just use about half the fat, and add roughly double the volume in flour as if I were making a roux off the cuff.  My mom has always called this a slurry, so whatever.  Let it bubble away a few minutes to cook the flour a bit.  Stir constantly.

Step 4: Add the juices/stock/water.  Using the bottom spout of the fat strainer, add the juices from the roast.  If there aren’t a lot, thats ok – usually the liquid has evaporated meaning that you need nothing more than water (or potato water works even better) to make the gravy the right consistency without losing flavour.  You can also use stock.  Add bit by bit, stirring constantly over same medium heat. I also like to add a glug of red wine at this stage, for a bit of depth.

Step 5: Season. Taste your beautiful gravy.  Add salt if needed, and if you’re posh, add a nob of butter and melt it in to give it that ‘gloss’ – though I’m not sure I’d do that unless the gravy was on the ‘thinner’ kind of ‘jus’ side of things.  This is stodgy ‘mom’ gravy.

Step 6: Serve.

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