It seems like some people are just born knowing how to make gravy while others struggle for years before finally succumbing to the heartbreak of gravy failure. If you think I am kidding around just bring a can of store bought gravy to the next southern dinner you get invited to.
No, please don’t. I can’t be responsible. Just read through and learn to make it right.
For this recipe you’ll need: milk or meat/poultry stock, fat (bacon grease, butter, drippings…whatever), flour, salt, pepper, additional seasonings as desired
If you are in a hurry click here to go straight to the homemade gravy recipe.
So, just about everybody knows that people in the south consider gravy to be a vital part of the food pyramid, right? Country gravy, also known as cream gravy, goes on chicken fried steaks, chicken fried chicken, biscuits and such. Brown gravy goes on pot roast, roast chicken, turkey and stuff like that. Any kind of gravy goes on mashed potatoes.
Once you have that down you’re good to go.
It seems like people are less and less able to cook from scratch. I had an interesting conversation in the grocery store right around Thanksgiving with a woman that was likely in her late 30s or early 40s. She was looking at the boxed pudding mixes and couldn’t find the one she wanted. She asked if I happened to see it because she needed to make banana pudding.
Y’all would have been proud of me. I maintained my composure and took a deep breath. “You know you can make pudding, right?”
She rolled her eyes at me. “Well yeah! But I can’t find the right kind! The flavor will be wrong if I use butterscotch!”
I smiled what I hoped was a tolerant smile. “Actually, you can make your own pudding with milk, flour, eggs, butter, and vanilla.”
I’m telling you she was gobsmacked. She looked at me like I had sprouted horns and begun to levitate right there in the baking aisle. Pinky swear.
“I’m sorry, what?”
I sighed. Keep in mind, I have eight children. I was not a patient person at 20 but all of my pregnancies lasted 43 weeks, my kids were all stubborn like their mom, and by the time I was 50 I had learned that sometimes you just have to breathe through it. “You. Can. Make. Your. Own.”
I’ll just cut off the dialogue there. It ended up with her taking home my instructions for banana pudding, hand written on a brown paper towel from the bathroom.
Of course none of that helps you know how to make gravy. My point is that we just tend to buy convenience foods without thinking. Homemade from scratch often doesn’t take much more time, is cheaper, and definitely yummier. Society seems to be losing the ability to be independent of the local supercenter and I fear that one day a hostile government will come in and take over merely by confiscating boxed pudding and jarred gravy.
The technique is the same whether you are making cream gravy or brown gravy so this recipe will show you how to make either.
How to Make Gravy the Southern Way
- Don’t use margarine! Use real butter (not whipped), bacon fat, or drippings from the meat. Use oil if you must but don’t use margarine! Please!
- Go easy on the salt. You can always add more once it’s done.
- Add plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Yes, even in the cream gravy. It’s supposed to be “freckled”.
- Be sure to cook the flour in the fat for at least 2 minutes while stirring constantly. This will get rid of any raw flavor.
- When you add the liquid to the fat and flour mixture do it slowly while whisking with your other hand. Whisk quickly and all of the lumps should whisk right out. Do not let it scorch – there’s no coming back from that.
- If you’re worried about lumps in the gravy just strain the gravy as you pour it into the serving bowl. With practice there won’t be any lumps to strain out.
- Use evaporated milk or whole milk for your cream gravy. Do not use non-fat or low fat. Please, this is GRAVY.
- DO NOT dilute your gravy with water. Dear God.
- Strain any pieces of meat or vegetable out of your stock before making brown gravy.
- Always taste and adjust!
If you’re making turkey gravy cover the neck and giblets and heart with water. Add 1 onion, peeled and cut in half as well as 1 peeled carrot, 1 stem of fresh rosemary, and 2 stalks of celery. Simmer covered until the meat is cooked through and the vegetables are soft. Remove the vegetables and strain the stock to remove meat and vegetable matter. Use as directed in the recipe.
Basic Gravy Recipe
Real Southern gravy is rich, creamy, and an important part of the Southern food pyramid. It should be smooth as silk and rich as a Houston oil tycoon. Serve it hot over biscuits, potatoes, meat, or bread. Makes 2 cups
- 1/4 cup fat bacon fat is preferred -- no it's essential -- if you are making cream gravy
- 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 2 cups whole milk, chicken stock, turkey stock, or beef stock
- Salt and cracked black pepper to taste
Add the fat to a heavy skillet, melting it if it's solid.
Whisk in the flour until no lumps remain.
Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until it starts to brown and smell a little like roasting pecans.
Whisk in the milk or stock, a little at a time, stirring until smooth and no lumps remain.
Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring constantly, for a few minutes or until it thickens.
Taste and add salt and pepper plus any other herbs and seasonings you'll be using.
Now that you know how to make gravy give these other Restless Chipotle favorites a try!
From left to right: Hatch Chile Pimento Cheese, Damntastic Texas BBQ sauce, Homemade Fig Jam