No Sunday roast is complete without a jug of silky smooth, deeply savoury, piping hot gravy (not to mention it being a compulsory accompaniment to pie or sausage and mash). The secret is to take the time to make a really great stock and then allow it to gently reduce to concentrate those meaty, caramelised flavours, as well as release the gelatin which gives the gravy that gorgeous silky mouthfeel. Follow these simple steps and I guarantee you will end up with the greatest boat of gravy you’ve ever made. And if you want to make it to go with lamb, chicken or pork – just swap the beef bones for the same weight of the meat you’re eating.
How to make perfect beef gravy
The secret to any good gravy is the stock – and the secret to any good stock is in the bones. Chicken wings and beef bones contain large amounts of gelatin and collagen – once they are dissolved into the stock and reduced, they give gravy a silky mouthfeel as well as bags of flavour.
Roasting the bones and vegetables will give the gravy a deep flavour. Roasting caramelises the fat and meat on the bones – which is known as the Maillard reaction – where a reaction between amino acids and sugars occurs. These then dissolve into the stock during the simmering to give a really meaty flavour and dark colour.
Gently does it
A slow simmer and plenty of skimming will result in a clearer, glossier gravy – boiling the liquid too hard will homogenise those fats and impurities that would otherwise sit on top, giving a cloudy, fatty gravy.
Adding reduced red wine (you will notice the difference if you use a better quality wine) will give the gravy balance – the acidity of wine will counter some of the meatiness of the gravy, ensuring it doesn’t taste too rich.
Mixing softened butter and flour (beurre manié), and whisking in at the end is a classic French technique of thickening sauces and gravy – the butter will give an added gloss to the gravy.
- beef bones 750g (tell the butcher you want to make stock)
- chicken wings 750g
- onions 2, chopped
- carrots 2, roughly chopped
- celery 3 sticks, roughly chopped
- black peppercorns 8
- thyme a few sprigs
- red wine 175ml
- unsalted butter 2 tbsp, softened
- plain flour 2 tbsp