You are hereGravy


Dined out last night, in what would be called a first class restaurant. Not for the first time I commented on the quantity of sauce being served. The gravy itself was delectable but apart from a smattering to cover the meat the only other evidence of it had been an intricate design applied to the plate with a fine paint brush; all very artistic but not what I would call nourishing.

It used to be that a main course dish comprised of  a plate, generously covered with meat or fish, potatos, rice or pasta, accompanied by a vegetable and complimented with a hefty helping of sauce. Nowadays, the plates have increased in size, shape and colour and the food has decreased to give the chef space to create his wiggly chocolate or yellow coloured squiggling.I was recently served four  small scallops on a gi-normous, black, triangular plate – very pretty but the remaining half empty plate was replete with the chef’s signature.

As plates in restaurants have grown in size, the food served has retreated to the middle of them. To leave room for the creative art work and  presumably to spare the chef time, the meat, fish  is placed, pyramid fashion, on top of the potato, rice or pasta. This is then topped up with a minute portion of veg and perhaps a miniscule branch of deep fried parsley or razor thin burnt aubergine for decoration. To cover the indecency of the half naked plate, the chef will then scribble a little sauce around the pyramid as if he is a Japanese line artist.

There used to be a piece of porcelain called a sauce boat but as gravy began to dry up like the water along the Nile valley, some gastronome invented the flat sauce spoon, which I suppose was to deter people from licking their plates, but even this practical innovation seems to have disappeared.

 I am not complaining about quality because I’ll be the first to admit,  that if you are willing to pay the price for it, restaurant food is getting better. But I do appeal to chefs in general to remember we are not all on a diet, and if you happen to be an ethnic English chef, please don’t forget the old staple, meat, potatos and gravy... lots of it. 

How to Make Gravy

Here are two basic ways of making gravy from roast drippings, one using corn starch, the other using flour. In each case, you start with the roast drippings. You may have much more drippings than you need for the amount of gravy you want to make. You can follow this guideline - for each cup of gravy you would like to make, start with a tablespoon of drippings. So, if you want to make 2 cups of gravy, drain all but 2 tablespoons of fat and drippings from the roasting pan (set aside for future use). These instructions will be for the end result of 2 cups of gravy, but you can easily divide or multiply to adjust for how much gravy you want to make.

Making Gravy with Corn Starch
1. Remove the roast from the pan. Place pan on stove on medium high heat. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp of the drippings in the pan.
2. Dissolve 2 Tbsp of corn starch in the minimum amount of water needed to make a thin paste - about 1/4 cup. Pour into pan with drippings and use a wire whisk or spatula (as pictured) to blend into the drippings. 
3. Stir with a wire whisk until the gravy begins to thicken. As it thickens, slowly add water, stock, milk, or cream, or some combination to the pan. Alternate stirring and adding liquid, maintaining the consistency you want, for several minutes (about 5). You will probably add about 2 cups of liquid all together. Taking into consideration the evaporation that is occurring while you are cooking, you will end up with about 2 cups of gravy. Season with salt (we use Vege-Sal).

Making Gravy with Flour
1. Remove the roast from the pan. Place pan on stove on medium high heat. Pour off all but 2 Tbsp of the drippings in the pan.
2 .Into the 2 tablespoons of drippings in the pan stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of flour. Stir with a wire whisk until the flour has thickened and the gravy is smooth. Continue to cook slowly to brown the flour, and stir constantly.
3. Slowly add back some of the previously removed drippings (remove some of the fat beforehand if there is a lot of fat). In addition, add either water, milk, stock, or cream to the gravy, enough to make 2 cups. Season the gravy with salt and pepper and herbs.

Recipe courtesy of Elise, Simply Recipes - Fly at a Smile-Price