All-Purpose Gravy from Almost Nothing (Cook's Illustrated)


Rita Y

TVWBB Emerald Member
This one's quick and easy and can be flavored with any meat or poultry drippings.



Makes 2 cups. This gravy can be served with almost any type of meat or poultry or with mashed potatoes. If you would like to double the recipe, use a Dutch oven to give the vegetables ample space for browning and increase the cooking times by roughly 50 percent. The finished gravy can be frozen. To thaw either a single or double recipe, place the gravy and 1 tablespoon of water in a saucepan over low heat and bring slowly to a simmer. The gravy may appear broken or curdled as it thaws, but a vigorous whisking will recombine it.

1 small carrot , peeled and chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 small rib celery , chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
1 small onion , chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups low-sodium beef broth
1 bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
5 whole black peppercorns
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. In food processor, pulse carrot until broken into rough 1/4-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses. Add celery and onion; pulse until all vegetables are broken into 1/8-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses.

2. Heat butter in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and well browned, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add broths; bring to boil, skimming off any foam that forms on surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and add bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 3 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.

3. Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer into clean saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve hot.

Source: Cook's Illustrated, November 2003
This "gravy base" freezes well; I always double or triple the recipe. I freeze mine in 2-cup portions in Ziploc bags. Freeze flat. Once frozen, the bags can stand upright in a box in the freezer.

It is tasty as a stand-alone gravy. I made some meatballs the other day and didn't want a red sauce, so I added 2 cups of the gravy base to the pan of lightly browned meatballs and pressure-cooked them together for about 6 minutes (high pressure + cold water quick release) so the meatballs finished cooking in the gravy and the gravy deglazed the pan. This gravy base works well with roast or grill-roasted pork or chicken or turkey (if you use a rack & pan) drippings as well. It's a great time-saver.

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Only a cup? :)

Which reminds me, I am out of the gravy base in the freezer and need to make some more. I pack it in 1- and 2-cup portions in pint and quart Ziploc freezer bags, making sure I get all of the air out. Freeze flat and then stand up in a small crate or box. The gravy base freezes very well.

Well, I understand the addiction to gravy, but consider the cons - it bypasses the taste buds...a sad thing.

Butter tubs. I don't even remember them; only 1-pound bricks and packages of 4 sticks, but that's a neat trick if you can pop them out of the molds. I don't bother to F/S mine when I make sure the air is completely out of the bags. Then I get no freezer burn and I usually use up a batch in less than 6 months, their shape is space-saving, and they thaw quickly in an emergency when the addiction kicks in.
Yeah, the butter tub makes a nice neat package, VS or not. It stacks nicely and allows you to store more. I vacuum seal because it's just me and I hate wasting good gravy. It's all personal choices, hey, the vacuum sealer is a tool how can I resist?
I absolutely agree about having a FoodSaver and getting all the air out of the package...I use mine several times a day. But If you're careful, you can get all of the air out of a liquidy mixture when using freezer bags alone and they are more economical for relatively short-term storage. And as you say, getting all of the air out is key.

I'm curious about your butter tubs. Are they available nowadays? Are they a square/rectangular shape or a round shape? I'm always looking for new freezer storage options.
Yeah, any margarine is sold in them. Ok, now I buy the whipped butter but that too is sold in a tub. I'm not talking #10 cans but 1# units. Look for " I cannot believe it's not butter". Yes I hang my head in shame, no one wants to be called out but the stuff has it uses. I collect the things from my family. They are good for pasta sauces etc. They stack well.
They are round tubs. A couple of minutes out of the freezer, they pop right out. It's a cheap way to get them done, you can use freezer bags, of course. I buy in bulk from Allied-Kenco, bags just big enough for
the job for the vacuum sealer.
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