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A guide for great gravy

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Good gravy is a key element of British cuisine and is typically accompanied with some form of potato; roasties, mash, chips - what you do your gravy is down to you, we don't judge.

When you decide a meal requires a splash of gravy, (or when you decide your gravy requires a meal), you want to make sure it doesn't disappoint!

Gravy granules, as nice as they can be, just can't compare to the real thing. Making a gravy from scratch adds a pinch of pride - you've made it yourself and hopefully incorporated a couple of bits that might have otherwise gone to waste.

For a gravy that will stimulate all your senses, just follow these simple steps:

1. Taste

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This is the most obvious, and important, point of all. Making a gravy from scratch can seem like a daunting process, but achieving the right balance in flavours is easier than you might think.

Put the leftover carcass into a pot with some veggies and herbs. Submerge it all in water, bring it to the boil and then leave to simmer. You can then sieve the liquid, which will leave you with stock.

To convert it to a gravy, add a glass of wine and boil for about an hour, until it’s reduced to 25%.

Don't over complicate things. Flavours from garlic, thyme, peppercorns or bay leaves make up many great gravies. If you're unsure of the kind of flavours that would complement a particular meat, the answer is likely in the meat itself; use any leftover juices or offcuts to bulk it up.

Meat isn't 100% necessary though - for a vegetarian option, just add extra veggies. Carrots, celery and onions are the classic go-tos, but ultimately, just do what feels right for your dish. Think about ingredients you're already using in your meal and incorporate these to reduce waste.

Finally, remember to taste your gravy as you go along. If you find it's too salty, add a dash of sugar. If you find it lacks flavour, ensure it's properly stirred, getting all the bits from the bottom of the pan.

2. Appearance

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A brown sauce might not be the most visually appealing part of a meal, but there are ways that it can look better- or worse. Picture your ideal gravy; silky smooth, rich brown, with a slight shine to it. All of these qualities are in reach, if you follow some simple steps.

If your gravy isn't as dark as you would like it to be, you can add a couple of drops of soy sauce. The soy sauce will intensify the flavour of the gravy, too.

What about that all important silky quality? The type of flour you use can have an influence on this- try to stick to all purpose.

If you've applied all these tricks and you're still not getting that shine, don't fret - just stir in a little butter.

3. Texture

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A gravy needs a certain thickness to it. No lumps and bumps, easy to pour, but not watery and weak.

One way to ensure there’s some substance behind your sauce, is to make a roux. This is a mixture of flour and a fat of your choice cooked together in equal parts to make a thickening substance.

To ensure you use every part of your meat, you can use the leftover juices for the fat element; just skim it from the top.

If a roux doesn’t sound like a bit of you, there’s other options out there; instead, you can simply reduce and simmer, or add pureed vegetables.

As ever, the most effective way to achieve a smooth consistency is to keep whisking and sieve your sauce - no hidden tips or tricks here!

4. Smell

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Remember those bay leaves, sprigs of thyme and cloves of garlic mentioned for taste? They do wonders for the smell of your gravy, too. This combined with the smell from the meat juices and wine, will have your mouth watering.

In all honesty, delicious smells typically follow delicious foods. Focus on finessing your flavours and the scrumptious smells will serve as a great appetiser as to what's to come.

5. Sound

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A good gravy should be met with sounds of appreciation- "wow", "how did you make this?" and "I didn't realise you were a professional chef", to name just a few.

Once guests have overcame their initial shock, there should be a contented silence, while the party enjoys their meal.


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