The perfect gravy everytime
In its finest form, gravy is essentially the flavor of the meat or bird given back to it, the starting point being the sticky caramelized juices left clinging to the pan when the roast is removed. These are eked out by deglazing the pan with a drop of wine, Madeira or Port, and then stretched a little further with water or stock and any juices given out when the roast is carved. A couple of tablespoons of this richly flavored sauce are all succlence of the meat.
Such gravy dose, however demand a judicious choice of vegetables on the side. The days when it was fashionable to drown your roast in thickened gravy coincided with the tradition of serving two overboiled vegetablesthat needed all the help they could get. We had more in mind a rich gratin, creamy vegetables puree, or just one other vegetable. The gravy is there to take care of meat.
Three steps to perfect gravy
Skimming the juices
First skim off any excess fat from the roasting pan leaving just one or two tablespoons. The sticky bits left clinging to the bottom of the pan form the foundation of your gravy, and the more there are the better. Though even when there appears to be next to nothing, it's surprising how far there flavor will stretch with the help of a little wine and stock.
Deglazing the pan
There are no golden rules about whether you add red or white wine to the roasting pan. When roasting beef or lamb you may like to add Madeira Port instead. Place the roasting pan on a fairly low heat, add the wine, and simmer for several minutes, scraping up the sticky residue on the bottom. If you taste the sauce at this point, it should be quite strong and probably adequately seasoned from the initial seasoning you gav the meat.
Thinning the gravy
If you are using water or vegetable cooking water which in truth has very little flavor, you should add a relatively small quantity. If you can afford to add more without diluting the flavor. Use chicken stock for chicken, and either lamb or beef stock for red meats. Simmer the gravy long and hard enough for the the juices to amalgamate into a smooth sauce, then add any juices given out from carving the roast.
On removing your roast bird to a carving plate to rest, tip any juices from inside the chicken back into the roasting pan. Proceed as deglazing the pan with 1/3 cup of dry white wine. Now add 1/3 cup water or 3/4 cup chicken stock and continue to simmer for several minutes.
Make gravy in the usual way. deglazing the pan with 1/3 cup red wine or Madeira. Once the wine has cook off, add a teaspoon or two of red currant jelly and stir until it melts, then thin the gravy with 3/4 cup beef or lamb stock and continue to simmer until it amalgamates. Roast lamb gives out lots of pink juices when it is carved that can be added back.
Deglaze the pan using 1/3 cup of red wine or port, if you like it slightly sweet stir in 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard, then thin it with 3/4 cup of beef stock, and proceed as usual.
Tips for success
The quality of your gravy will depend on the quality of your meat or poultry. The more flavor it has the more flavorful the gravy.
For gravy-making you need a sturdy roasting pan suitable for the stovetop; anything flimsy with a uneven base will burn the juices, remember that making gravy is an imprecise art-the amount of wine or stock you add should be determined by the size of the roast an the amount of juices in the pan.
Be guided by intuition and taste as you go. What are euphemisticallyknown as cooks nips are off the agenda. The ends of glasses and bottles that are combined and kept beside the stove for such occasions will be a little better than vinegar. Any wine you use should be decent enough to drink.
Try to use fresh stock, rather than stock cubes, and don't bother to strain the finish gravy; while common practice in restaurants, one of the joys is all the bits from the roast that come in it.
Pour the gravy into a boat at the very last minute, once everyone is seated, to ensure it comes to the table piping hot.
Tricks of the trade
A smidgen of dijon or grainy mustard can be added to boost the flavor, as you can a few drops of worcestershire sauce. Scent the gravy with thyme by adding a few sprigs to the pan when deglazing it and removing them at the end. add a few drained green peppercorns to chicken or beef gravy, you could also add some chopped herbs and skinned, diced tomato to a gravy for chicken or lamb, you could also add chopped black olives to lamb gravy and enrich it with a bit of butter, this is also delicious when served with ratatouille
I know if you use this information while your making your home made gravy it will enhance the flavor making it even better than before so just go ahead and give it a try!
The starting point for making my stock at home is the left over roasted chicken meaning the carcess. not wishing to waste it I pop it in pot, cover with water and leave it to gently simmer for a hour or so. The stock can then be boiled down to enrich it further until it taste singularly of chicken. If you add vegetables to the pot you will end up with a more complex flavor but by the time the stock has been included in a recipe that complexity will probably be lost.
Bouillon cubes are a no-no; rather water than the artifice of all those hydrogenated nasties. Bought fresh stocks vary in quality; some are a little better than reconstituted bouillon cubes. Try different ones to find those you like best. Amass the those you use on a regular basis in the freezer.
1 roasted chicken carcass
Put the chicken carcess in a saucepan that will hold it snugly, and add water to cover by 3/4 inch. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam on the surface. Add a good teaspoon of salt and simmer for 1 hour, strain the stock, taste and, if it seem at all insipid, return to the pan and reduce by up to concentrate the flavor. Leave to cool then cover and chill, skim off any fat from the surface before you use it.
The Handicapped Chef Carlton Haynes is the owner of Triple H Catering and Consulting Service and Chef Brand Foods for more information E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.