How to Make Lump-Free Gravy
Smooth Near-Perfect Gravy
Gravy should be smooth and flavorful but that is not always the case. If you don't get it right, gray can be lumpy and bordering on mediocre instead of marvelous. While it might seem relatively simple to make a good gravy, many cooks struggle with it. They believe it should be easy. After all, what could go wrong with so few ingredients? but much can and does.
First off, some cooks neglect to strain their meat juice, so there's bits of fat and gristle and even burned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan. Other problems can crop up, as well. Gravy can be too runny or it thickens so much it looks like some type of weird brownish jelly. Worse still, sometimes the flour doesn't cooperate and awful doughy lumps mysteriously appear. And no, one can't put scalding gravy in a blender to try to eliminate the lumps. Once they form, no amount of stirring or whisking will get rid of them.
There is light at the end of the gravy train, though. Making lump-free gravy is easy, when you know how. You can use either flour or corn starch as a thickening agent and you can turn out perfectly smooth gravy. Each requires a bit of know-how, though. It is not simply a matter of adding either of these to meat juice and producing decent gravy.
Gravy Made With Flour
Using flour to make gravy is slightly trickier but there are a couple of tricks you can use.
- Place 1-2 tbsp of flour and enough water to moisten in a plastic container, put a lid on, and shake well. Make sure you add enough water so that you get a slightly thickened but still runny mixture. This method of shaking in a container works well to combat lumping.
- Place water and flour in a blender and blend until smooth.
- Use a dusting flour and use either of the methods above.
Add this mixture to lightly simmering meat juice and stir with a whisk while it thickens, to produce smooth gravy.
Note: flour adds more flavor to gravy.
Gravy Made With Corn Starch
Using corn starch is by far the easiest way to achieve perfect lump-free gravy. You simply add 1-3 tbsp. of cornstarch to a cup, add in enough water to mix it, and then stir with a fork until the cornstarch is dissolved. You add this mixture to gently simmering meat juice and use a whisk to stir it in, then allow the mixture to gently simmer until it thickens, stirring occasionally.
Adjust amounts, as necessary. If gravy is too runny, mix more of the corn starch with water and add to mixture. If gravy is too thick, add more water to your meat broth and simmer and stir until you've achieved the desired consistency.
Using corn starch ensures lump-free gravy every time.
Gravy Making Tips
I always add a little extra water to my roasting pan when I'm cooking a roast or a chicken or a turkey. This prevents the meat juice from drying out and burning on the bottom of the pan and also results in more liquid to make gravy with.
Once your meat is cooked and you've removed your meat from your roasting pan, it's a good idea to set the pan over an element and boil the mixture, stirring around the sides to remove any juice residue, and along the bottom to remove any stuck-on bits. This adds more flavor to the meat juice and helps to loosen stuck-on pieces.
Before you make your gravy, it is a good idea to pour your meat juice through a fine wire strainer to remove small bits and fatty pieces that may have come off the meat during cooking.
Once you do this a time or two, you'll become an old hand at making good gravy and never again have to worry about lumps spoiling your gravy.
Skimming off Grease Makes for Better Gravy
To remove grease from gravy, see my hub: A Neat Trick to Remove Grease From Gravy. This method results in near-perfect gravy every time.
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© 2011 Athlyn Green
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