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How to make the perfect gravy

Good Housekeeping UK logo Good Housekeeping UK 4 days ago The Good Housekeeping Cookery Team
a cup of coffee © Getty Images

Savoury and rich, a great gravy is the finishing touch to a roast dinner. Don’t fall at the final hurdle: read our guide to how to make the perfect gravy and you’ll be giving the local gastropub a run for their money…

How to make gravy from scratch

If you want a killer gravy, you need to do a little bit of prep work.

Make sure your meat roasts in a tray that you can safely put on your hob, then toss some carrots, onions and celery in the tin around the meat joint to roast alongside it – you won’t be eating them at the end, and it doesn’t matter if they catch a little.

They will add a touch of sweetness and some extra flavour to your gravy.

Time it right

The best time to make gravy is after the roasting is finished, whilst the meat rests.

To keep the meat warm whilst you make it, lift the joint on to a board (ideally one that catches any escaping juices) and loosely cover with foil and tea towels.

Get skimming

If there’s a lot of fat in the roasting tin, strain everything into a jug (don’t discard the stuff in your sieve) and let it sit for a minute to allow the oil to come to the top, so it’s easy to separate.

Add some fat back into the tin, along with all the stuff in your sieve.

Skim off and discard the rest of your oil, and keep the jug of juices on standby.

How to make gravy from stock

a plate of food on a table: Roast beef with gravy © Good Housekeeping UK Roast beef with gravy

Use good quality stock to make the body of your gravy and match it to your roast, if possible.

If you want to make your own stock from scratch you can follow our recipes for chicken stock, beef stock and vegetable stock.

It takes some time to do but will be worth it. You can also use the chicken and vegetable stock as a wonderful base for soups, stews, risottos and sauces

If they don’t make a stock for the meat your eating, use chicken or vegetable stock, as both have a universal appeal.

Flour power

Add plain flour (unless you’re making gluten-free gravy – see further down for separate instructions) to the oil and stir it in.

Put the tin over the heat and cook for 30sec, scraping and cooked residue into the mixture.

Getting saucy

a plate of food on a table: Stuffed rack pork cider gravy Stuffed rack pork cider gravy

Whisk the stock in a little at a time, a splash of booze (white wine, vermouth and brandy all add richness) then add the bits in your sieve back, along with the juices in the jug and any that have come from the resting meat on the board.

Bring to the boil and bubble for a few min, whisking constantly until thickened. Mash the vegetables a little to add extra body and flavour. Strain into a jug.

Doesn’t taste right?

If your gravy is too salty, a splash of cream can mellow it out or a squeeze of lemon juice re-balances.

If it isn’t punchy enough, try adding a spoonful of marmite or some mustard to enliven it.

Too bitter? A little redcurrant jelly or marmalade can sweeten things up.

Gluten-free gravy

If you’re making a gluten-free gravy, things are actually a bit easier.

Skim off the fat from the pan, leaving the juices and roasting remnants behind.

Add the stock (make sure you use a gluten-free one), along with a couple of teaspoonfuls of cornflour mixed with cold water. Bring to the boil, whisking constantly until thickened.

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Lumps in your gravy?

To remove small lumps, whisk vigorously until lumps are dispersed. To remove big lumps, pass the gravy through a sieve. Otherwise, blend in a jug blender until smooth.

Lumps occur when ingredients with different consistencies and temperatures come together (cool dry flour vs hot wet liquid) – for example, if the flour is added straight into hot stock.

To avoid lumps, mix the flour with some deglazing liquid to make a paste, then add the paste to the rest of the hot deglazing liquid and stock, and simmer until the flour is cooked out (otherwise gravy will have the unpleasant taste of raw flour), and the sauce has a coating consistency.

Too thin, too thick

It's simple, if the gravy is too thin, simmer until thickened. If too thick, add more water or stock.

Most importantly, keep tasting the gravy - better to have a gravy with the right flavour intensity than worry too much about consistency.

Gravy in a hurry?

If you don’t have time to do all of the above (or something goes awry!) try this easy quick gravy in a pinch.

The ultimate gravy recipe

a cup of coffee on a paper plate: How to make gravy © Getty Images How to make gravy

Makes about 400ml (14fl oz)

Ingredients

  • Cooking juices from roast beef or chicken (keep in the roasting tin)
  • 2tbsp plain flour
  • 75ml (3fl oz) red wine for beef gravy or 75ml (3fl oz) white wine for chicken gravy
  • 400-500ml (14-17fl oz) beef or chicken stock

Method

  1. Prepare gravy when roast joint is resting. To make chicken or beef gravy, spoon off most of fat from roasting tin, leaving behind vegetables and any sticky juices.
  2. Over a medium hob heat, add plain flour to roasting tin and stir in. Cook for 1min, ensuring flour is completely stirred in and incorporated into juices.
  3. Gradually add wine and stir in. Use red wine for roast beef and white wine for roast chicken. Cook alcohol off, until it doesn’t smell strongly of wine.
  4. Gradually add stock, stirring constantly. Use beef stock for roast beef and chicken stock for roast chicken. Cook for 3 to 5min, stirring constantly, until thickened and reduced in volume slightly. Season to taste, then strain into a jug or gravy boat and serve.

How to make onion gravy

This vegetarian gravy will please everyone. Use oil, vegan stock and vegan wine if you want to make it vegan-friendly.

You'll need two onions, peeled and finely sliced, and softened gently with 1 tbsp butter and 1tbsp oil for about 15mins.

You'll need to sprinkle with 1tsp sugar and caramelise for 5min over a high heat until lightly brown.

Then turn heat to low, stir in 1tbsp flour and cook for a couple of min until flour is combined. Pour in 75ml of red wine and stir in to make a paste.

Add 350ml of vegetable stock and stir. Turn up heat and simmer for about 3-5min until thickened. Check seasoning and serve.

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