You've been there. Trying to figure out how the gravy got lumpy, and desperately trying to find a way to fix it at the last minute, before the guests - or worse yet, your mother-in-law walks in to see "how things are going".
"Oh, they're going FINE!" you scream as you quickly toss a kitchen towel over the offending gravy only to watch it catch fire from the gas flame. Things could get worse, but how? At least there's wine.
With the holidays ahead, you might be wondering how to avoid the dreaded Gravy Disaster, and how to make a tasty gravy that will satisfy the craving, yet stick to the WFPBNO (whole-food, plant-based, no-oil way of eating). Relax. I've got your back on this one, and it couldn't be simpler.
For some years now, I've been using the Better Than Bouillion vegetarian stock concentrates and I swear by them. Yes, they're probably a little higher in sodium than we'd like, but you can easily mitigate the issue by simply not adding a bunch via soy sauce, for example. There are four types of BTB concentrates and I get them from Amazon.com since I've never seen them in any of my grocery stores. If you order, I suggest you order at least two jars of each. Actually, I order four of the No Chicken, because I use a bit in practically all my soups, sauces and stews to make the flavor profile just that much richer.
And, here's another point to these concentrates: no more of the half full/half empty boxes of stock taking up real estate in the fridge. Oh, and you've had that moment when you grab the box of stock only to find out that, whoops! there isn't quite enough. Use these concentrates and you'll always have 'enough'.
Having all of these on hand offers incredible flexibility. Want a Chikin Gravy? Easy! Just pull out the No Chicken Base. Need a 'beefier' flavor for your lentil chili? Grab the No Beef base. The Vegetable Base does nicely for just about anything else. And, feel free to mix and match! In fact, there's a handy Better Than Bouillion Vegetarian three-pack so you can try them all. Since I'll be sautéing vegan beef tips tonight, I used half each of the mushroom/beef base in my gravy.
Another 'swear by' item that I keep in the freezer is sliced mushrooms. Fresh mushrooms are great, of course, but I never seem to have them when I need them on 'the fly'. The frozen work just great, and when paired with the BTB mushroom stock concentrate, you can really develop some amazing mushroom sauces, gravies and soups. That reminds me, maybe I should put a vegan Cream of Mushroom soup on here?
These frozen mushrooms can be tossed directly into hot things like gravy or soup, or sautéed for a side dish. You don't have to even thaw them out!
Another 'swear by' are the tubes of tomato paste. Again, who needs a partially used can of tomato paste in the fridge? I like the Cento brand, and it's less expensive than others. I honestly can't tell the difference in flavor. I keep one tube in the fridge with my BTB concentrates, and a couple more in the pantry. A dollop of tomato paste isn't going to 'turn your gravy' red. Honest. But, it will give it a certain 'something' ... or as my family in France would say "je ne sais quoi".
Now, let's talk about thickening agents. You don't really need to go further than Corn Starch or flour. I keep both handy, in addition to Maizena Roux pour Bechamel. When I'm making anything that needs a serious 'white sauce' - say vegan Mac and Cheez - I reach for the box of Maizena. Again, it's not one of those things you'll find in every grocery, so I order it from Amazon. It's so nice to not have to load my suitcase up with stuff like this while in France anymore!
Corn Starch produces a gravy that will be more 'translucent' or not as 'thick' looking or tasting as with flour. Sometimes that's a consideration. I wanted this gravy lighter in appearance, so went with the corn starch. If you want a more 'Southern-style' gravy, then go with flour, by all means. But, either way, you should make a 'slurry' - and I keep pint-sized Mason jars handy for just such things. Put COLD water in the jar, add the thickener, shake it like you mean it. Then, pour it into your HOT broth/liquid. Bring to a boil, stirring with a whisk (you DO have a whisk, right?), and reduce the heat. Simmer. Taste. Adjust the flavors. Taste again.
There are other thickening agents, like Tapioca Starch and Arrowroot Powder, but we'll save those for another post. Let's make gravy!
Make me proud, and set up your Mis en Place, okay? Measure everything out, and have it prepped and ready to go.
PREP TIME: Under 10 minutes.
COOK TIME: About 5 minutes.
SERVES: Depends on your Gravy Hounds, but I'd say 4-6 people.
It KEEPS in the fridge for several days. Warm it up gently.
3 cups of stock - 2 cups will be hot (in the pan) and 1 cup COLD for your slurry.
1 tablespoon soy sauce or aminos.
1 cup frozen mushrooms - or omit if you don't want mushrooms.
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 tablespoon maple syrup (OPTIONAL)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons onion powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
A few grinds of pepper - to your taste
5 tablespoons Corn Starch
SLURRY: 1 cup COLD stock/water with 5 tablespoons of corn starch. Shake it like you mean it.
In your pot, add the broth and ALL ingredients except the slurry. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to simmer and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add your well-shaken Slurry, and bring heat to a boil.
Have your whisk ready!
Reduce heat to medium and whisk for 2-3 minutes.
Reduce heat to simmer and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
If you think the gravy is too thick, add a BIT of water/broth and whisk.
Taste! Adjust the flavors to suit you.
NOTE: for most purposes the Better Than Bouillion concentrates are best used at 1 teaspoon per 8 ounces (one cup) of water.
This button will take you to PayPal where you can securely pop a bit in the 'tip jar'.