Perfect Gravy

Okay, I have a 93 year old father who misses my mother and can’t make a gravy. So I figured I can make most sauces, I should be able to manage a gravy.

Here’s a version I’m finally pleased with. Anyone can do it.

The secret is you need more mushrooms than most of us are going to cook in a sauce pan. Here’s my quick supermarket version. You can improve it by using home made stock, and other fairly obvious improvements. For intestines more robust than those of nonagenarian, can add spices to suit. For my taste I’d add a lot of black pepper; for my father I cooked it as follows.

1 large onion
300 g mushrooms
1 Litre commercial beef broth
250 mls cream 1 cup
15 ml olive oil 1 tbsp
30 ml butter 2 tbsp
30 ml flour 2 tbsp
125 ml Marsala or Tawny port ½ cup
½ cup dried mushrooms 125 ml

The last ingredient is the key. Put ‘em in a food processor, no fluid, and puree them into sawdust. They should make about a third of a cup of straw. Cover them with marsala, plus a few mls. They’ll need about one to two hours to rehydrate. They won’t be hurt if you do this and leave it until you come home.

Meanwhile, chop the onion and add to a sauce pan with the oil. While it’s softening, chop the mushrooms and then add them and stir them into the pan. Continue to stir and soften the mix over low to medium heat.

When they are thoroughly softened but before the onions start to turn gold, add the litre/quart of beef stock. Leave them on a high simmer, to reduce the beef stock roughly by about a half. I use the pot as a guide. With the stock and onions in, it comes to 80 per cent level, so I aim for the half full pot.

In a small sauce pan I drop the butter, and stir it with a fork until it has a visible layer over the bottom and sides of the pan. Then I drop in the flour, and stick a fork in the lump of butter, and run it around the flour over low heat.

Essentially I end up with a flour coating on a butter popsicle. I keep moving it around and the butter and the flour will make a roux, something about the consistency of toothpaste. At this point I add a cup or so of the stock-onion-mushroom mix. And stir it with the fork until a more or less consistent texture has been achieved.

Add the mixture to the beef stock and stir.

The key is that flour takes about a half an hour to meld with the stock. If you do this more quickly your gravy will taste of flour. Let the entire mixture bubble and reduce together.

About here you add the marsala and dried mushrooms. All of this has to reduce to the original goal.

About an hour before dinner, add the cream, stir in. At this point you’ll need to monitor the reduction and heat. You should be close to the finished texture, and you don’t want to overheat the gravy. I usually walk by the stove about every ten minutes or so and give it a stir.

That’s it. This is a slightly sweet, intense gravy. Everybody I’ve fed it to, loves it. If you’re under 80, I’d add more spices. But start here and you won’t go wrong.

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