Good Golly Gertie, That's Good Gravy

| 1/6/2020 1:27:00 PM


Gravy…it’s still what accompanies many dinners in many households. There is that certain something about gravy that puts that finishing touch on a meal. Having gravy at a meal was just a given staple for folks in my generation.

Ron remembers his Grammy having gravy sometimes three times a day. Yea, that may be a little excessive but it just shows how gravy was what pulled the meal together. It was also a way to stretch the food dollar when you had a lot of folks to feed. You could throw leftover meat, potatoes, veggies, etc. together, cover it with gravy and have a casserole to feed many for a couple more meals.

Although making gravy is an important kitchen skill for any home cook, it is still somewhat of an art form. The term “gravy” was actually used first in Middle England as “grave.” It is derived from the French since the word was found in many medieval French cookbooks. In the late 14th century, their interpretation of gravy was “it consisted of natural cooking juices from roasting meat.”

As any chef will tell you, there are certain distinctions between gravies, sauces and jus. A sauce is defined as a thick liquid served with food, usually savory dishes, to add moisture and flavor and is not necessarily meat-based. Gravy is a type of sauce made from the juices of meats that run naturally and are often thickened with wheat flour or corn starch for added texture. Jus is made from the same juices but have been refined and condensed to a clear liquid that is naturally thickened. Jus is a reduction and gravy relies on a thickening agent.

The usual thickening agents are flour, corn starch and arrowroot. They all make good gravies, but with different properties. Flour will clump when dropped into a hot liquid and, if not careful, will make a lumpy gravy unless it is added slowly and steadily. Corn starch doesn’t clump but will thicken over a course of a few minutes. It also thickens as it cools so, if too much is added, the result will be gel-style gravy. Being pure starch, corn starch is a more powerful thickening agent than flour so you only need half as much. The rule of thumb is to use one tablespoon of corn starch for each cup of gravy.

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