Make Your Own Gravy

by in Healthy Recipes, Thanksgiving, November 17, 2009

Gravy
Next time you’re grocery shopping, check out the label on a jar of gravy. You apparently need a lot of junk (preservatives, thickeners and trans fats) to keep it shelf save. The pre-made stuff might be convenient, but it’s sure not the real thing. Making your own gravy is healthier, tastier and easier than you might think.

Simple Ingredients
Basic essentials for homemade gravy include stock or broth (vegetable, chicken, beef or turkey depending on what kind of gravy you’re making), flour or cornstarch to thicken it and pan drippings from roasted meat. You can make a sort of pan sauce gravy without the drippings, but honestly, the flavor is much better with them in there.

Losing the Lumps & Seasoning It Up
As for the thickening agents, the one you choose is up to you. We’ve always used flour in my family but cornstarch is also a good option, especially if you’re cooking for someone who’s allergic to wheat. To avoid those dreaded lumps, combine the flour with softened butter before adding it to the gravy mx. Or just sprinkle it in slowly while whisking well. Cornstarch can be more finicky, so always dissolve it in some water or broth before adding.

Quick Tip: When using either of these thickeners, make sure to bring the gravy mixture to a simmer to reach full thickening potential.

As for seasoning, salt and pepper is a must –- nobody likes bland gravy. You can also add some real pizazz with a bit of wine, apple cider, Worcestershire sauce or even some hot chiles.

Putting It Together
When it comes to gravy making tools, two things are essential (well, three if you count a saucepan to make your gravy in). To lose some of the fat from those pan drippings, use a fat separator. Just pour in the drippings and let the fat rise to the top. Then, you can pour the flavorful drippings out and leave all the fat behind. Another tool you’ll want around is a sturdy whisk for whipping your gravy to silky perfection.

Specific recipes will vary, but the basic method for preparing gravy is just a few steps. Use hot stock and pan drippings, add your thickener and seasoning, whisk well and cook until thickened — don’t turn your heat up too high or you risk scalding. Use these recipes below to find the best combination of methods and ingredients for your next meal.

How Much Is Too Much?
Consider gravy a condiment and use it sparingly so you don’t add lots of unnecessary calories to your meal. While the calories depend on the kind of gravy you make, we suggest you stick to two to four tablespoons per serving of any type — that will add about 50 to 100 extra calories to your meat or mashed potatoes.

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