7 Commandments for Making Perfect Gravy
In the sometimes-melodramatic play that is Thanksgiving, gravy is the best supporting actor of the meal. It can add extra flavor to bland mashed potatoes or stuffing, and rescue (or at least mask) an overcooked turkey. Follow these rules to make sure it’s the best it can be:
1. Dissolve your thickener
Blend your cornstarch or other thickener with some cold liquid until dissolved before adding to the pan. If you forget and add it all at once, it can lead to lumpy gravy.
2. Cook it till browned
If the recipe calls for making a roux (cooking flour in fat), make sure to cook it long enough so that the starch granules swell and the flour loses its raw taste. Once it’s nice and brown, whisk in the liquid gradually.
3. Get the right texture
Gravy thickness is a personal preference, but there is such a thing as too thick (or too thin). Remember that it will thicken up a bit as it simmers. Before serving, check the texture and thin it out with a little extra broth or water if need be. If it’s too thin, stir a tablespoon of cornstarch into 1/4 cup cold broth or water, then add a little of the mixture to your gravy. Bring to a boil, then check the texture again.
4. Season judiciously
As the gravy simmers, water will evaporate and the flavors will become concentrated. That can be a good thing, but it also means that any salt will be concentrated as well. It’s best to salt sparingly before cooking, then adjust the seasonings again before serving.
5. Brighten it up
Is salt and pepper not giving your gravy enough oomph? Try adding a splash of lemon juice or a pinch of sugar to round out the flavors.Take those cheese squares mom puts out before the meal, grab a few toothpicks, and start dunking. Gravy makes an excellent sauce for almost anything you wish. The dipper doesn’t matter, it’s the dip we want.
6. Make it ahead
Consider making the gravy a few days before. You can still add the turkey drippings that day, and will have one less thing to worry about, which will eliminate “panic cooking” (something even trained professionals have been known to do).
7. But always serve it hot
Reheat if your gravy’s gotten cold or it’s been refrigerated. Heat up the gravy boat, too, by pouring boiling water into it. Drain out the water then add your gravy so that it will stay warm longer instead of grabbing the light Italian that you only pretend you like to make your mother happy, just lather on the gravy. It adds the same texture while making your salad taste like holiday spirit.