Monday, October 11, 2010
When Home is... your mother’s gravy recipe
Recently I was at my mother’s house for dinner along with my sister and my sister’s godparents from interstate. Mum had made a roast – albeit with mash potato rather than roast which was my first shock of the evening – and just as the meat was ready my mother asked my sister to help with the gravy.
My initial reaction was to wonder why she asked my sister when surely she knew as little about making gravy as me. But then as she deftly whisked away with a fork I realised that she knew exactly what she was doing.
‘How do you know how to make gravy?’ I asked accusingly as only a big sister can.
‘What are you talking about? Mum taught me of course.’ She looked at me curiously. ‘Didn’t she ever teach you?’ she said in a way that only a younger sister can.
‘I’m sure I’ve shown you how to make gravy’, my mother interrupted shaking her head at us.
Um, no. White sauce yes, gravy no.
How is this possible? As a lover of roast dinners how have I gone through adulthood without making a gravy?
It’s funny how there are some recipes that you learn from your family rather than a recipe book. And if you miss out before you leave home you may never master. What I love most about such recipes is that every family probably has a slightly different version thanks to generations of tinkering to please different palates.
I suspect the reason why I never learnt to make gravy was that it’s not my favourite part of a roast dinner anyway. I never liked the gravy seeping into my crispy roast potatoes and I still don’t. For me a roast dinner has always been about the potatoes.
But I think it’s time I grew up and at least had an idea about how gravy comes to appear on the table. After bringing up the gravy conversation again with mum (‘You should just know after watching me make it for all those years.’) I learnt that she makes it the same way my poppa does as my nanna always made it too thick, lumpy and pale. At least nanna’s way would mean that it wouldn’t leak into my potatoes.
So, finally I have our family’s gravy recipe. Whether I attempt it will be another question. After all, a family recipe always tastes better when it’s made by your mother, doesn’t it?
Sprinkle enough SIFTED plain flour (I just use a metal tea strainer) to cover the bottom of a hot frying pan (this can be done in a dry pan or otherwise the baking dish & juices once the meat is
Watch it carefully as it starts to brown without being tempted to move it around! As you see it change colour - not too dark, the safest way is to take it off the heat and add enough beef stock slowly, stirring all the time (or even using a whisk) to make sure it does not go lumpy (putting it back on the heat as you add more stock).
When it is the consistency you want & just at boiling point ... not too thick and not too thin, take it off the heat. When the beef is rested & carved, pour the juices from the carving tray back into the gravy & re-heat ready to serve in a 'gravy boat' of course!
I think I remember that Poppa's secret ingredient was adding a touch of Worcestershire sauce at the end.