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Good Gravy November 17, 2010

Posted by Mitchell in Food.

This post is inspired by a discussion over at NSKMD.  Go read that then come back here.  Done?  Good, now you’re up to speed.

I’m not much of a one for cooking. When I’m at home I’m mostly a sandwich guy.  I used to be a cook in my younger days and frankly detested it.  That said, I love food and one of my favorite things of all time is a plateful of biscuits and gravy.  You know what is the hardest thing to find in any restaurant anywhere?  Decent biscuits & gravy.  The biscuit half isn’t too hard, lots of places have pretty good biscuits.  But finding good, brown gravy is nigh impossible.  No, pretty much everybody serves up the same fluffy white sausage gravy.  Which is Jimmy Dean’s brand gravy BTW.  It was what we used at IHOP and I recognize the flavor everywhere.  It comes in a big, frozen tube.  Anyway.  Mom makes the best brown gravy I’ve ever had and she taught it to me.  It’s actually made up of pretty simple ingredients and not too hard to make.  Mostly it’s just getting the timing of each stage right and not scorching your flour.

Get out your pen and and an index card and write this down:

3 tablespoons All purpose flour
3 tablespoons of bacon grease (or other critter squeezin’s)
1 can of beef broth (Campbell’s double strength) + 1/3 can of water
Pepper to taste

Put your critter squeezin’ in a large-ish skillet and put it on medium-high heat.  Add the flour and stir constantly.  You’re going to cook flour until it just turns over brown.  This is the ticklish part.  If you don’t cook it long enough it’s just going to taste like flour.  Leave it on too long it will scorch and you have to start over.  When it’s just the right brown take off heat (see below), add the liquids and stir like mad. It will thicken quickly, stir to avoid making lumps.  It will be a bit loose at this stage so you put back on heat and stir until correct thickness. Add pepper to taste.  Serve and enjoy!

This is the right color brown.

Heaven on a plate
Food of the Gods.


1. Mitchell - November 17, 2010

Mom says that any kind of animal fat will do, but I’ve only tried bacon and sausage grease. I’ve heard that duck fat in general is absolutely amazing and I’d love to try this recipe with it some day.

2. Lemur King - November 17, 2010

I do love a good roux. Duck fat is second only to pork fat, IMHO. Try making a confit using duck fat and as many cloves of garlic as you can submerge in the stuff. To die for. It’s like little culinary nukes that you can throw into dishes willy-nilly.

An aunt by marriage, who we called “spaghetti” because of her vibrant personality (sarcasm) once traumatized me during Thanksgiving.

She pulled the turkey out of the oven, this beautiful bird that lit up the room with it’s golden-brown glow. Then she took the bird out of the pan and dumped out the drippings into the sink, then made gravy using a packet of gravy mix and water. I was in a state of shock. She threw out good turkey fat so she could make “gravy” with packaged mix. Took years of therapy to get over that.

Nicole - November 17, 2010

Have never used duck fat. I’ll have to try it next time I get some duck.

I never end up with enough squeezins out of turkey to make gravy. I usually try to do mine on a covered grill, kind of smoked. It turns out golden and brown and crispy, but not with squeezins. I do use the carcass to make broth with though.

Mitchell - November 18, 2010

The way we used to do a turkey was in a big roasting pot surrounded by cornbread stuffing. The stuffing soaked up all the juices that cooked out of the bird, and Dad always makes a giblet gravy separate. That’s an arcane process that I’ve never studied. It’s REALLY good though.

These days we do the turkey in a separate roaster oven thingy kinda like a big crockpot and the cornbread in pans in the oven. We don’t actually stuff the bird anymore. The juices that cook out are added to the carcass and that gets boiled for stock, which gets converted to turkey noodle soup. I’m pretty sure the grease gets skimmed off and thrown away.

3. Nicole - November 17, 2010

Looks good, Mitchell! I usually make white gravy at home for biscuits, but I do use the sausage grease to make it. 😛

4. Mitchell - November 18, 2010

Try this brown gravy once Nicole! I think it just has a more intense flavor than most white/cream gravies. And sausage grease works great too!

5. Lemur King - November 18, 2010

Nicole, grillin’ and smokin’ animals is so different it’s like shooting a bullet vs. throwing it. I wholeheartedly approve of the smoking approach though (and want to bring the family over to your place to eat smoked dead animal flesh this Thanksgiving). THAT’S good eatin’. 🙂

Learned a cool trick a few years ago… if you get your turkey and wedge a few fingers up under the skin of the breast you can shove a couple of tablespoons of cold butter up there and it’s like an internal butter-lube thing going on… ohhhhh yeahhhhh.

For the biscuits and gravy… think “thick cut apple-wood smoked bacon” and add that to the equation.

Don’t mind me folks – I get really coiled up over culinary stuff. Hope I’m not being too annoying.

LC Aggie Sith - November 21, 2010

Yes, I do that trick with the butter, adding some bay leaves under it for a fantastic aroma, taste, and presentation.

6. Nicole - November 19, 2010

Ooo… the bacon sounds excellent. As does the butter on the turkey. I usually put my spices up under the skin, but maybe I’ll make up some butter-spice pats and chill them and use that instead of just spice.

I was contemplating doing this one:


Maybe I’ll have to do 2 turkeys while tis the season.

7. Lemur King - November 19, 2010

Whoa… so it’s like a dry rub for ribs but on a turkey. That sounds really really good.

So I’m doing Mitchell’s gravy this weekend and that turkey for t-giving day.

Will let you guys know how it works out.

My other weakness around this time of year is taking the mashed potatoes out of the fridge the next morning and frying them up to go with fried eggs.

I just wiped drool off my shirt.

8. Nicole - November 19, 2010

Ooo. I haven’t done that with the taters.

I generally make up a big batch of leftover soup. Leftover turkey bits, leftover gravy, any remaining veggies, mashed potatoes… all goes in a pot and I add cream or milk to thin it out to a thicker cream soup. Yurm.

9. Lemur King - November 19, 2010

Put a decent amount of oil in the pan and fry the mashed tater patty so it’s really really brown on both sides… it is one of my very favorite things to eat.

10. Mitchell - November 19, 2010

^Those would be Potato Pancakes LK! Yes, we love them too. They don’t really keep that well so it’s best just fry up the ones you’re gonna eat in one sitting.

11. Lipstick - November 20, 2010

My Thanksgiving dining secret (shhhhh):

Blueberry Hill.

12. Mitchell - November 20, 2010

Blueberry Hill – I was just there yesterday for a late-night breakfast with guys from the office Lipstick! Good food (the hashbrowns sucked, but everything else was good) but WAY too much of it though.

On year we did Thanksgiving at Memphis Championship BBQ and that was pretty good.

13. Lemur King - November 20, 2010

I agree on the potato crispies, Mitchell. So I make it a point to fry them ALL up and eat them in one go. Can’t let ’em spoil, right?

Mmmmm…blueberries. Anyone else here had my favorite pie – apples and blueberry pie?

What is Blueberry Hill? Sort of a high-class Denny’s? (yes, I’m a heathen in some respects)

14. Anonymous - November 20, 2010

^Yeah, it’s a Family Restaurant in the Denny/IHOP vein but probably a notch or two above. As for pie we tend toward banana cream and cherry for the holidays. Next week the Maternal Unit is going to try her hand at blueberry for the first time. I’m sure it will be good. Haven’t ever had apple/blueberry hybrid. Never seen such a critter out in the wild.

15. Mitchell - November 20, 2010

Nony Mous twas me.

16. Lemur King - November 21, 2010

I’ll have Cruel Wife send you a recipe to hand off to your Mater Unit, for grins and giggles. I swear, one’s tail just ’bout wags off one’s butt after a slice of it.

17. LC Aggie Sith - November 21, 2010

Is it bad that I just gained three pounds reading this thread???

18. Lemur King - November 21, 2010

Here’s a trick I heard a while back… say your roux isn’t quite thick enough, you’re out of cornstarch, and you don’t want to take the time to cook the flour taste out of more flour. Take equal amounts of butter and flour and mix really well until it’s a paste. Now you can add a spoonful at a time until your gravy is as thick as you like and no cooking time beyond what is required for it to initially thicken – the raw flour taste is just not there.

Use it a lot when making gravy for Thanksgiving or if I have to stretch any sauce to accommodate more guests.

Aggie – any guy will say “Depends on where the three pounds went…” That is, if we were stupid enough to actually say it, which I am not.

Nicole - November 21, 2010

Mmm… plus, more butter. And how can that be bad?

LC Aggie Sith - November 22, 2010

Well, I would hope the pounds went to the upstairs, since the downstairs are quite well padded, LK.

19. cmblake6 - November 22, 2010

OMG, that just has my tastebuds dancing!

20. Mitchell - November 22, 2010

21. drew458 - November 23, 2010

cornstarch? Ack. Arrowroot!! Though the real deal can be hard to come by.

And I always heat my critter squeezins up to boiling before mixing them in with the roux. I think that makes less lumps, but honestly, 45 seconds in the Magic Bullet is the greatest de-lumper that ever was. Better than whisking yourself ragged.

Lemur King - November 23, 2010

drew458, what, pray tell, is a Magic Bullet? I’m afraid to ask but I had to remind myself that “fear is the mind-killer”.

Innernetwebtubeythingy has me trained to interpret “Magic Bullet” as being some sort of bedroom recreational toy.

22. Mitchell - November 23, 2010

LOL. LK hasn’t been taking his Daily Recommended Allowance of late-night infomercials or The Shopping Channel. Basically it’s just a small blender.

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