Roasted bacon wrapped turkey breastWhen a piece of meat is roasted, pan-fried, or prepared in dry heat, a deposit of browned sugars, carbohydrates, and/or proteins forms on the bottom of the pan, along with rendered fat. Those bits are called “fond,” and it’s good! The flavor in a gravy comes from those browned bits, rendered fat and added flavoring. When you don’t have pan juices, you can use a fat, like butter, flour and dairy to make a milk gravy and then flavor it as desired. We do this often when we make peppered gravy. We also save and refrigerate our bacon grease for this, too.

We normally get the fond up off the bottom of a pan through a process called “deglazing.” It merely means adding a small amount of cold liquid to a hot pan. The heat turns the liquid to steam, and that loosens the fond so you can get it off the bottom and stir it in the fat to dissolve it. You can use wine, vinegar, water, or a bottled soft drink to deglaze. Dairy won’t work because it will curdle. Just decide which flavor direction you want to take the final sauce or gravy, and use an appropriate liquid.

Pan Gravy with Chicken Fried ChickenYou need fat in some form as a base for the gravy. For each cup of gravy you want, start with two tablespoons of fat and two tablespoons of flour or cornstarch to thicken. So, if you want to make 2 cups of gravy, use 4 tablespoons of fat and 4 tablespoons of thickener. Typically, we use either corn starch or flour as our thickener. If you are using drippings from a roasting pan that won’t work well on the stovetop, collect the amount of fat you need and put into a saucepan or skillet to make your gravy.

Making 2 Cups of Gravy with Corn Starch
1. Dissolve 4 Tbsp of corn starch in the minimum amount of water needed to make a thin, pour-able slurry; about 1/3 cup.
2. Pour the slurry into the saucepan or skillet with 4 tablespoons of fat and quickly whisk to combine over medium-high heat
3. As the gravy thickens, slowly add the stock, water, milk, or cream you like for your gravy
4. Alternate whisking and adding  the liquid, to achieve the desired consistency, for about 5 minutes
5. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed

Making 2 Cups of Gravy with Flour
1. Dissolve 4 Tbsp of all purpose flour in the minimum amount of water needed to make a thin, pour-able slurry; about 1/2 cup
2. Pour into the saucepan or skillet with 4 tablespoons of fat and quickly whisk to combine over medium-high heat
3. As the gravy thickens, slowly add the stock, water, milk, or cream you like for your gravy
4. Alternate whisking and adding the liquid, to achieve the desired consistency, for about 7 minutes to cook out that pasty flour flavor
5. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed

Larry with Pot of Hot BrothWhat are pan sauces, and how do they differ from gravy? If meat is cooked plain, or is flour battered, the resulting pan juices will make sauce. If flour is added after meat is cooked in order to thicken the pan juices, it’s gravy. Both use the fat and fond for most of their flavor, and sometimes a thickener to make a smooth sauce, or, simply cooked down to make a tasty reduction. Check out Red Wine Reduction Pan Sauce to see how to make delicious sauces to serve with your entrees!

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