The word gravy has strange overtones. It has, on one hand, the feel of something honest, which will taste familiar and have none of the surprises indicated by a word like sauce. On the other hand, there is the implication of a crude concoction that requires neither skill nor care. The trick is to get the homely, good taste while taking care with the choice of ingredients and preparation.
Real gravy makes use of the residues in the pan in which the meat has been roasted and of any juices that escape from the meat after cooking, while it rests. A little water is the only other absolute requirement. All gravy is made using the same method. You can mix in any herb you like. Marjoram goes well with lamb, while pork can take fractionally stronger flavoured herbs, such as thyme.
Lift your cooked meat on to a large dish to rest while you make the gravy. Pour any fat in the roasting tray into a dish. If you are making an unthickened gravy, place the tray on a low heat, add the passata, fry for a minute, then add the wine (if using) and 500ml water. Bubble for a couple of minutes.
If you are thickening the gravy, add 1 tsp reserved fat and 1 tsp flour to make a roux. Stir for a few minutes, then gradually add the passata and water, stirring to thicken.
Add any juices that have drained from the roast meat. The fat poured from the roasting tray will have separated into a top layer of fat and a dark concentrated liquid, which you can also add. Spoon off the fat until you are left with this residue. Add anything else that will contribute to a good flavour – garlic, herbs and the like, and strain into a jug.