Gravy

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Bushie
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Gravy - Mon, 06/9/03 10:29 PM
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About 95% of the gravy I've had at restaurants around the country has ranged from "swamp scum" to "just there".

I've always thought that gravy should not only be a compliment to a meal, it should kinda "stand on it's own". In other words, it should not only be something you want to dip your food into, it should be so tasty that you want to take a spoon and scoop up the last bits on your plate.

I have no doubt that there are many places around this country that make a good gravy. Besides my house, I know you can get good gravy at Massey's in Fort Worth (thanks Matchstick Man), and at Hill's Cafe in Austin, TX.

I'd love to hear of other awesome gravys, white or brown, around this great country of ours.



Jennifer_4
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 1:07 AM
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I've never had any extraodinary gravy in a restaurant, but my parents and grandparents had always made the best white gravy in existance..sometimes just regular, sometimes full of bacon and/or sausage. Somehow the gravy making gene had missed me completely, until last Saturday.. I finally came into my own culinary heritage. Boy was I happy!

Bushie
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 8:28 AM
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Congratulations, Jennifer! I know exactly what you mean. It took me years of gravy makin' before things finally clicked.

Sundancer7
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 8:51 AM
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I personally prefer sausage gravy.

Finding the perfect gravy that matches your taste is sort of like looking for the Holy Grail. Very difficult to find.

I have never been real good at making it although I try on occasions using what is left when I fry sausage or chicken or chicken fried steak.

I generally do not like store bought gravies, but one exception to me is Libby's sausage gravy which I have purhcased several times at Walmart.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Bushie
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 8:55 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by Sundancer7


... Finding the perfect gravy that matches your taste is sort of like looking for the Holy Grail. Very difficult to find. ...

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN


Ain't that the truth!

ocdreamr
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 9:39 AM
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I'm one of those cooks that likes to improvise, you know, if your cooking chicken, this time a little more sage maybe next time a little rosemary, next time put in some sherry. The problem is if I get a real blow your socks off gravy this time I may not be able to replicate it the next. I will write down what I did but because the amounts aren't exact it won't be quite the same. The gravy will be good but just not the same.

Bushie
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 10:10 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by ocdreamr

I'm one of those cooks that likes to improvise, you know, if your cooking chicken, this time a little more sage maybe next time a little rosemary, next time put in some sherry. The problem is if I get a real blow your socks off gravy this time I may not be able to replicate it the next. I will write down what I did but because the amounts aren't exact it won't be quite the same. The gravy will be good but just not the same.


That's one of the "casualties" of being such a good, creative cook!

Jennifer_4
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 11:20 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by ocdreamr

I'm one of those cooks that likes to improvise, you know, if your cooking chicken, this time a little more sage maybe next time a little rosemary, next time put in some sherry. The problem is if I get a real blow your socks off gravy this time I may not be able to replicate it the next. I will write down what I did but because the amounts aren't exact it won't be quite the same. The gravy will be good but just not the same.


Everything I cook is that way~! And if someone likes something and says, "please make that stuff you make", you can't reproduce it exactly if you remember how you made it at all.

ocdreamr
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 11:47 AM
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Jannifer
that's why I keep a spiral note book named "How I did that" in my kitchen. When something comes out well or someone particularly likes it, I write down what I did right after eating, that way, at least, I hopefully have a starting point to recreating the recipe. May not be exact but gets me in the ball park.

Hode
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 12:18 PM
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I know it is a chain but I do enjoy Bob Evans Sausage gravy to the point I order it for breakfast lunch or dinner.

RubyRose
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 06/10/03 1:19 PM
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In my area, the most consistently good gravy seems to be at church, grange, or other community roast beef or turkey suppers. Those ladies don't just open a couple of industrial size cans of gravy and heat them up.

Liketoeat
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 1:03 PM
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Roadfood.com is the best thing I've discovered on/about the internet in the year we've been connected. Not only is it so interesting, informative, educational, entertaining, but it also brings back so many wonderful, long forgotten memories.This topic of gravy is a prime example of that. While I like all gravies (other than those I make myself; making gravy & frying chicken are two cooking skills I never mastered), some of my favorites are roast chicken, fried chicken, fried round steak gravies; white sausage gravy with sausage bits; and occasionally red-eye gravy. My all time favorite gravy, tho, is a roast gravy my mother used to make.

She would put a little water in the bottom of one of those heavy, hammered aluminum roasters (don't know if they are still made) and place a chuck or similar type roast on a rack in it. She'd mix up a concoction of vinegar, mustard (dry or just plain yellow prepared), salt, and rather heavy dose of black pepper and pour over the roast, placing it on the back burner of the stove, bringing it up to steam, and then cutting back on the heat to let it cook slowly. The vinegar-mustard mixture would infuse and flavor the roast as it cooked. When the roast was nearly done she would sift some flour onto a cookie sheet and brown that flour in the oven. When done, she would remove the roast, stir that browned flour into the pan juices and stir and cook that until it reached the gravy consistency she desired. She'd then serve the roast and gravy and I thought I'd gone to heaven. The roast was great, but I liked the gravy even better. The others in the family could have the roast as long as I could have some of that gravy on mashed potatoes or rolls or bread. It was the mustard-vinegar flavor combined with the beef flavor which made it so good. Was absolutely my all time favorite gravy. It is one gravy which meets Bushie's initial topic posting definition of what a gravy whould be. I remember her way of preparing this roast and gravy was some variation on the original recipe, but the original could not have been better. The one thing I can not remember with certainty is whether or not she browned the roast a little, at either the beginning or end of the cooking process, but I think she did brown it a bit at the beginning.

I had her recipe for years. We tried it at times and it always came out "ok", but never as good as hers. Unfortunatley during the last move her recipe was misplaced, or I fear, lost. In reading about gravy favorites, thought I'd just mention my all time favorite and thought anyone who is talented at tackling "partial, general" recipes and particularly who likes a vinegar-mustard flavor might like to try this one.


Bushie
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 2:31 PM
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Wow, Liketoeat, what a story! I'll definitely make my next roast and gravy using your mother's technique. I guarantee you it won't come out as good as hers, but it sounds wonderful. (This is really the wrong time of year down here to be cooking roasts in the oven, but I may have to make an exception for this one! ) Thanks!

RubyRose
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 2:36 PM
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Liketoeat, my mouth is watering reading the description of your mother's roast and gravy. My grandmother and mom used to keep a glass jar of previously browned flour on the counter for thickening all kinds of gravies and sauces so I'm familiar with a part of that wonderful flavor.

mayor al
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 3:36 PM
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Mom's and Especially GrandMom's are endowed with special God-given DNA that makes them capable (and willing) to spend hours in a kitchen doing things that only Executive Chef's dream about.
I know that times change, and the "modern mom" has a much more complex schedule than my (our) GrandMom's did...but I acknowledge with the deepest respect the memories I have of watching my grandmothers daily routine of Breakfast- house chores- Lunch- Then the afternoon was spent preparing the evening meal. A typical day would have at least 6 hours of food-prep in it. How many of us (either gender) do that on a daily basis..outside of those compensated for it at work? It is no wonder that their gravy---roasts---pies--soups--dumplings--etc all turned out as they did.
You don't gain that kind of experience trying to juggle a career, family raising and Household chores in the same time span.
This was not meant to be a put-down of the working mother...instead, you folks have brought to the front of my recall some wonderful memories of a day that doesn't exiest anymore...and that is my lose.

VibrationGuy
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 4:08 PM
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My grandmother makes great gravy, my mother makes crappy gravy; what's the difference? (aside from grandparents and grandchildren being united around a common enemy?) Fat.

My grandmother makes roux, and my mother, hopelessly modern, uses starch slurries. Feh. You cannot make gravy without roux. Slurries and adding flour after the liquid component is added invariably mean a raw, starchy taste. Ptuii. Mom's not the first one to be wrong; Escoffier predicted that we'd all move to pure starches, too.

My gravy formula, invariably, uses a butter-and-rendered-fat roux, degreased drippings, stock, a little hooch of some sort, and seasonings. Finally, in a shameless attempt at gilding the lily, I enjoy "mounting" a gravy with a few hunks of cold buttter whisked in at the end, in the manner of ost french pan sauces. *drool*


Some of the best gravy I've ever had out-of-home was at Butte View Elementary School in Emmett, ID. Those lunch ladies (enormous girls, they, all rolls and folds) made *superb* hamburger and turkey gravy out of USDA commodities. It's a damn shame they served it on top of instant potatoes...and this, in the heart of potato country. For shame, ladies. Your gravy nearly redeems you, however.


Jennifer_4
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 4:15 PM
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This gravy topic also brings to mind a dish I loved in our highschool cafeteria... "Hamburger Gravy".. nothing more than browned ground beef in brown gravy, ladled over mashed potatoes...ahhhhh.. I've made it for my family several times, but using a satisfactory brown gravy mix... true comfort food.

Bushie
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 4:29 PM
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VibrationGuy, you obviously have had some culinary training. Please let me ask a couple of questions.

1) I don't bother separating the grease from the drippings anymore, and I haven't experienced negative results. What is the benefit of doing that in terms of the finished gravy?

2) I'm not familiar with the "mounting" technique (biting my lip here, trying not to think of the obvious mental picture...) What does that do?

I appreciate any info you can share.

Liketoeat
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 4:58 PM
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Bushie and Ruby Rose - Thanks for your comments and hope your goes at this roast turn out decent. My mother just automatically made up that vinegar, mustard, etc. mixture but the recipe did have quantities specified. When we've tried it, particularly after misplacing her recipe, we've just had to kinda do that part by taste (being careful not to overpower everything with vinegar); also being careful not to overly brown the flour. Wish I could provide more details and will be anxious to know how your efforts come out. As said, ours have been "ok", but certainly not hers. Don't know if either of you know what Garrett (dipping) snuff is or if you are familiar with the old Garrett Snuff pocket memos; a little booklet shaped like a jar of Garrett Snuff which farmers carried in their pockets to jot down memos. It also contained a few bits of "Farmer's Almanac" type info, including a few recipes and household hints for the ladies. For a few years one of the recipes included in it was this vinegar-mustard roast-gravy recipe. You may not want to try it after learning the recipe's original source. I've never tried and can't stand dipping snuff, but trust me, this Snuff Memo recipe was great.

And Mayor, surely enjoyed your comments re moms and grandmothers, both sources of some of my most wonderful memories. Your description of your grandmother's days reminds me so much of what I remember of my grandmother's days being. However, my mother was in a little different position in that in addition to being small farmers we also had an old country general merchandise store to which my mother devoted a lot of hours of work. In the rush seasons of spring and particularly fall (back then times of manual labor cotton chopping and cotton picking), she would have to let some of her housekeeping chores and even her cooking go due to the long hours that store demanded; but she surely made up for those times in winter and summer and whenever else she could. I spent my career in industry, and I surely admire the current day working moms; how they do what they do, I'll never know (fear I could never have done it), but I'd not previously stopped to think that a future loss of this type of life we all now have is going to be current younger and future adults not having the wonderful memories of their mothers and grandmothers which we enjoy. Take care all. Like to eat.

Bushie
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 5:20 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Liketoeat

...You may not want to try it after learning the recipe's original source. I've never tried and can't stand dipping snuff, but trust me, this Snuff Memo recipe was great...



Just as long as I don't have to put Garrett Snuff in the gravy itself, I'm cool with it.

RubyRose
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 8:52 PM
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Me too. If you'd like to post your closest approximation of the recipe, I'll try it.

Sundancer7
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 9:15 PM
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I am not an expert on gravy and probably never will be. Simple sausage and fried chicken gravy works with me.

My mother who lives next door makes a great country fried steak gravy. She does her country fried steak quite different than most as she uses a real steak, browns it and then slow cooks it with onions and other spices in the oven for several hours at around 200 degrees. The gravy is made from what is left and it is thick, oniony and brown. Great over her yeast rolls whick she has with every meal.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

Liketoeat
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 06/11/03 10:54 PM
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Sundancer, that country fried steak and its gravy your mother makes surely sounds wonderful. I've never had country fried steak or its gravy prepared in that manner. Would love to, though. And Ruby Rose, the closest approximation of the vinegar-mustard roast & gravy recipe I can come up with is contained in my above 6/11, 13:03 and 16:58 postings. Liketoeat

Michael Stern
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 4:32 AM
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I love the soulful sausage gravy that comes with biscuits, like this stuff, in the background, behind biscuits at the Florida Avenue Grill in DC:


Lone Star
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 10:02 AM
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I feel lucky I suppose, that my grandmothers, my mother, and my father, all taught me various ways to make different gravies. My husband tells me I can make a gravy out of anything, but it is not something I know how to tell, or write down.

Like tortillas, tamales and scratch biscuits, it is just something you "know" how to do. My husband will many times start dinner, and leave the gravy making to me.

For someone wanting to learn how, I suppose mastering a basic white sauce recipie would be a good start as it is made from a roux of flour and butter. It would help the cook learn the fat/flour/liquid/timing ratio.

My husband tells me it is a dying art form.

ocdreamr
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 10:38 AM
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quote:
Originally posted by Lone Star
For someone wanting to learn how, I suppose mastering a basic white sauce recipie would be a good start as it is made from a roux of flour and butter. It would help the cook learn the fat/flour/liquid/timing ratio.

My husband tells me it is a dying art form.


Lone Star

I know what you mean, I work in a large office (think Federal Government) and if the gals here start talking about cooking you can bet if they are under the age of 35 that when the subject turns to gravy they start to name their favorite jarred or packaged gravy mix.
If you even ask them about gravy from scratch they look at you like you are from Mars. The thing is most of their mothers don't make it from scratch either, so they don't even know what it is.

kland01s
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 12:18 PM
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Sadly, cooking is a dying art, at least true from scratch cooking. The problem is time, just last night I "whipped up" crayfish etouffe and understand why I make it so seldom(as in once every 3 years), its a LOT of work!I was given a pound of crayfish, other wise I would never have done it. I think I did a pretty good job of the roux, real butter, cast iron skillet and slow cooking but oh, my, is that work!

Jennifer_4
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 4:39 PM
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I have only heard of this concoction, but has anyone here made or eaten "chocolate gravy" ?? I hear many people like it with biscuits.

Bushie
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 5:42 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Jennifer_4

I have only heard of this concoction, but has anyone here made or eaten "chocolate gravy" ?? I hear many people like it with biscuits.


Interesting question, Jennifer. When I was growing up, my dad hated chocolate. The reason he gave was that when he was a boy, at their Sunday dinners they would serve plates of food with "chocolate gravy" poured over everything. He hated it, but of course back then kids didn't get to pick and choose like today, so he had to eat it.

He made it sound awful, and I've never tried it, but I haven't thought of that in I don't know how many years.

Sundancer7
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 5:52 PM
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I have had a chocolate sauce over a chimichanga which I suppose was similar. I did not think it was all that good.

Paul E. Smith
Knoxville, TN

VibrationGuy
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 7:25 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by Bushie

VibrationGuy, you obviously have had some culinary training. Please let me ask a couple of questions.

1) I don't bother separating the grease from the drippings anymore, and I haven't experienced negative results. What is the benefit of doing that in terms of the finished gravy?

2) I'm not familiar with the "mounting" technique (biting my lip here, trying not to think of the obvious mental picture...) What does that do?

I appreciate any info you can share.


The reason I separate the drippings is so that I can use the fat to make roux, and not risk the flour seizing up in nasty lumps due to moisture. You could just cook the water out of the drippings, but this runs the risk of burning the flavor-y bits. Also, given my proclivity towards meat with large volumes of surface fat and excessive marbling, the drippings I get from a roast can be extremely fatty - upwards of 30% most times. Thus, there's usually more fat than I need for the gravy. (Don't throw it out; it's nice to saute potatoes in).

As for mounting, it's a clever trick of emulsifiers. Butter is rich in compounds known as phospholipids (lecithin would be one specific phospholipids). Thanks to their structure, phospholipids like to help oil and water hang out together without separating. So, whisking a few cold chunks of butter into a hot sauce or gravy makes it hold the fat without a dreaded oily sheen appearing on the top, makes the sauce smoother, and adds that nearly-unctuous texture that I crave. I'd say for huge cast-iron chicken fryer full of turkey gravy, I'd use about 3 oz. of butter (3/4 of a stick) cut into six pieces, added one at a time, and for two cups of gravy, probably 2 T., as three hunks.

And no, I haven't had culinary training, per se; I grew up around big eaters and great cooks, in a culture of good food (I've never, for example, tasted Hamburger Helper, and Kool-Aid *never* entered our house). Both of my parents are scratch cooks, my maternal grandmother is a fantastic baker, her husband is a PhD in Food Science and a serious food geek as well, and my late Great-Aunt was the child of Greek restauranteurs, and a passionate foodie herself.

On the subject of gravy being a dying art, I agree wholeheartedly. It's a darned shame, too. It's not rocket science to make gravy.

I remember a Christmas a few years ago at Grandmother's house. Grandmother was relaxing, the baking done, the table set. Dave (her husband) was getting things ready to go on the table, and decided he'd be in charge of the gravy making. Mother, realizing that Dave was going to use slurry rather than roux (the one exception to her slurry fetish is her turkey gravy, based on Grandmother's recipe). We both knew this was Just Not Right (mom's logic, btw, is that turkey isn't "rich" enough on its own for optimum gravy, but she refuses to carry this logic forward and recognize the much leaner beef and pork now being produced), so as Dave turned his attention to other matters, mom distracted him as I tossed in chunks of butter and whisked everything to glossy perfection. When Grandmother complimented Dave on the "nice, rich" gravy, Mom and I couldn't keep from howling. Aaah, a family brought together by fat.

Eric

Bushie
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RE: Gravy - Thu, 06/12/03 7:32 PM
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Thanks for the advice, Eric! And, thanks for the good story, too!

fdm813
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RE: Gravy - Fri, 06/13/03 2:47 AM
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Please don't ban from this site,but I like the sausage gravy at McDonalds. I know that's a awful thing to say but considering the stuff that is available in local resturants, with a few exceptions on the other side of town, it is quite tasty. It is also less then 5 mins. away. Since I cook for one it's tough to make gravy in that small portion.

emsmom
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RE: Gravy - Fri, 03/26/04 1:18 PM
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I myself prefer the brown gravy. Cooking the roux to the desired shade is tricky though. You have to be really careful. Years ago,
my Mom used to make gravy with fatback (salt pork ) but with all the health warnings, we now just use Canola oil. What I really like is fried chicken gravy, make after I fry my chicken in Canola gravy and use the crumbs from the chicken in the gravy. Now thats comfort food.
Personally, I don't like sausage gravy, but I do like chipped beef gravy. I brown by flour into a roux, add the jar on dried beef and let sizzle for a minute or so, then add my milk and water.

Rusty246
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RE: Gravy - Fri, 03/26/04 3:04 PM
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quote:
Originally posted by emsmom

I myself prefer the brown gravy. Cooking the roux to the desired shade is tricky though. You have to be really careful. Years ago,
my Mom used to make gravy with fatback (salt pork ) but with all the health warnings, we now just use Canola oil. What I really like is fried chicken gravy, make after I fry my chicken in Canola gravy and use the crumbs from the chicken in the gravy. Now thats comfort food.
Personally, I don't like sausage gravy, but I do like chipped beef gravy. I brown by flour into a roux, add the jar on dried beef and let sizzle for a minute or so, then add my milk and water.


I make my fried chicken/pork chop gravy the same way, by making a roux, I wonder though, what this type gravy would be like if you browned the flour in the oven as in Liketoeats story before making your roux. Would you need less stirring and cooking time for the roux,or should something's that not broken not be fixed??

chickenqueen
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RE: Gravy - Sun, 09/3/06 6:07 PM
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I know that this is an old thread but in response to the chocolate grave question my family is from the south and one of the things that my favorite aunt makes is chocalate gravy. It is sweet and delicious without being too sweet and she just served in on buttered biscuites for breakfast and it was a treat whenever I stayed there. I have made it before and it came out very well but a lot of my friends who were raised here in the north with not a lot of southern influence were apalled when I told them about it until I made it for them for a brunch. I thik that a lot of them were expecting something more along the lines of Hersheys syrup but chocolate gravy is thick but without as intense of a sweet flavor. It really is very good when made right and swrved simply on biscuits.

SassyGritsAL
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 09/5/06 10:56 AM
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I make sausage gravy or gravy from bacon drippings every Sunday morning. I leave about 1/4 inch of the drippings in a fry pan and add 2 heaping tablespoons of flour to the drippings (at med. high temp). I take a fork and smash the gravy around the pan in the drippings until it turns med. brown, I then add milk (how much milk, depends on how much gravy I want). Start light and then you can always add more. I take a wisk and wisk away until the gravy becomes thick. This method works for me all the time, and I have never had lumpy gravy.

SassyGritsAL
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 09/5/06 10:57 AM
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Oh yes, I forgot, I also add salt and pepper to the milk mixture.

fabulousoyster
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RE: Gravy - Tue, 09/5/06 12:23 PM
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gravies and sauces can change an ordinary chicken cutlet into many different meals. Sometimes I think its all in the sauce.

tkitna
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 09/6/06 3:52 AM
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Man this thread hits home (even two years later). Its true, a good gravy is almost impossible to find when you go out to eat. I never really thought about it, but its true.

My mother has always made fantastic gravy whether it was brown gravy, chicken gravy, red gravy, squirrel gravy, etc,,,,always good. Wish I could duplicate some of them.

ann peeples
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RE: Gravy - Wed, 09/6/06 6:15 AM
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The only truly good gravies I have had when dining out at have been German restaurants....

oltheimmer
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RE: Gravy - Sat, 09/9/06 12:07 PM
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Of course one of the best things about gravy is that it's such a great diet food. As my dear departed father used to point out, any time you smother a dish with gravy, whether its cream gravy, sausage gravy, brown gravy, chili gravy or whatever, you automatically cut the fat and calories by half.... so ladle it on .

(and be sure to sop up all of it with biscuits or whatever).