There is no greater compliment to a wonderfully cooked Sunday roast than a proper homemade gravy. It's no good going to the trouble of crisping potatoes to heavenly perfection, carefully sauteeing buttery veg, pulling out a tray of mouth-watering meat, to then pour a brown bisto paste over the top! What a crime!
The art of making glorious gravy is not to be taken lightly. However, it is also incredibly simple. There really is no recipe for gravy, it's all about using what your roast has provided and enhancing its offerings, increasing the volume, whilst increasing the intensity.
To start gravy nirvana firstly place a host of flavoursome seasonal roots in the bottom of your roasting dish, nestle them in around the meat. A must are onions, halved, carrots halved, garlic in whole bulbs and celery in chunks. You can also add parsnips, fennel, apples, pears - whatever takes your fancy and is in season.
Once your meat has roasted remove it from the pan and leave it to rest on a board with a channel to catch the juices (the resting juices can be added to the gravy later). The veg you added earlier should be cooked and caramelised, and the roasting pan should be full of sticky scrapings. Remove your veg and put to one side, we'll come back to them later.
Take the juice and burnt bits roasting pan and place on the hob, add a generous glug of something suitably alcoholic, red or white wine, port, cider, brandy - whatever takes your fancy. Deglaze the pan and with a wooden spoon work up all the burnt bits so all of that value melts seamlessly into the sauce.
Now we're ready to add the veg. Take the set aside roots and add them back into the pan. With a potato masher, back of a fork or spoon, mash the veg into your pan. You'll need to start thinking about adding a little more liquid now, this can be in the form of wine, cider or stock. Resits the urge to add water as this will just dilute the flavour.
We're ready to thicken. You can use a multitude of ingredients depending on your preference; flour, butter, cream all work well. Start with less, you can always add more as you go. The key is not to dilute the flavour, but to work it until the gravy pan becomes a rich manna from heaven. Bring your thickened liquid just about to the boil. If you have used any flour, check that this has properly cooked out.
You're ready to finish your gravy, according to your taste. You might feel just a pinch of salt and pepper suffice, however, there are a whole host of other ingredients that will give your gravy a little va va voom. I have listed our favourites:
- Nutmeg or mace
- Star anise
- Cinnamon sticks
- Fresh herbs
- Wholegrain mustard
- Redcurrant jelly
- Red Onion Marmalade
- Cranberry Orange & Port Sauce
- Pear Apple & Herb Chutney
- Lemon juice
You are now armed with all you need to create glorious gravy. No excuses. Granules, browning and powders must now be thrown away with abandon and shall never darken your kitchen cupboards again.