Last night I made one of the hub's favorite dishes, city chicken. As I was making the gravy, it dawned on me that there might be people who haven't learned the tips I picked up over the years for making good gravy.
I was nineteen when I married and didn't know diddly about cooking so it was pretty much OJT (on the job training) for me. And it's been a long haul getting to the good gravy stage.
Tip number one: Make sure the flour is well-cooked. You probably already know that, but I didn't until I was in my thirties. Cook until it turns a nice golden brown, taking care not to burn it.
Tip number two: Remove the pan from the heat to add your liquid. This I learned in a cooking class about ten years ago, and I was amazed at the difference it makes. It keeps the roux from clumping when you add the liquid.
Tip number three: Bouillon cubes. Okay, don't wrinkle your nose; just do it. It really deepens the flavor. For chicken, I keep both regular and salt-free and try to use both together. That way, they're not as bland as salt-free, nor as salty as regular. With beef, I only have regular on hand so...it is what it is. The beef is actually a cube, and I use one for about two cups of gravy. The chicken is granules, and, all told, I probably use about a teaspoon and a half for one recipe.
Tip number four: Potato water--or the liquid of whatever vegetable you're cooking for dinner. I use regular water to start, but whenever the gravy needs thinning, which always happens for me, I thin with the liquid from whatever vegetable I happen to be cooking. Better that you take advantage of nutrients you'd otherwise pour down the drain.
Tip number five: Browning sauce. Depending on how brown I got my flour, I may or may not use browning sauce. Made of caramel color, vegetable concentrates and seasonings, it adds a nice color to any gravy that might be lacking such. (You could also use a bit of instant coffee if you have that on hand. Me, I prefer the browning sauce.)
And finally, tip number six: When you're making gravy from a liquid base, as in last night's city chicken dish or a pot roast, pre-mix your flour and water in a small container--I use an empty jelly jar. Just put in a couple of tablespoons flour--or whatever's required for the amount of gravy you want-- add a third cup or so of water and shake that thing until the flour's fully dissolved. Then add this to your liquid base. Works a charm.
That's it for my gravy-making. Hope it helps with yours.