Veal Stock Country Gravy

Mandy and I love to cook, as you’ve no doubt noticed. But cooking 4 to 5 times a week in a relatively small town tends to mean that we go through the same few staple ingredients all the time. It’s really easy to fall into a rut of chicken and rice for every dinner, and I have definitely done that a bunch of times.

It’ll also come as no surprise that I’m a big fan of Monty Python. They’re zany, funny and a little different; but in the end they make me happy. It’s in the spirit of one of their least known stories I present:

And Now For Something Completely Different

And this time, the completely different ingredient will be veal stock. I understand some people may have some issues with veal, but I promise the second it touches your tongue, you’ll lose every last scruple. So go to that spot in your local mega-mart where you find chicken broth and grab a carton of veal stock instead. It’s totally worth it.

Confession time: gravy has been my kryptonite. It always tasted like flour or was lumpy or was too thick or too thin. Basically, I had a hard time with it and had pretty much given it up. I finally had some luck last Thanksgiving, and I think I’ve got it about figured out. Tonight we’re going to make it with veal stock and butter, but you can use a whole lot of different ingredients like chicken broth, milk, heavy cream, chocolate… It can get as weird as you want it.

A couple of quick tips:

  1. If you have a round-bottomed pan, it will suit you well. A saucier was pretty much made just for this.
  2. Have all your ingredients ready and within arm’s reach before the butter hits the pan, because once you get going you can’t stop.

The basis of any country gravy is what the French call a roux. It’s an equal part, by volume, of some melted fat and flour. We’re going to make a decent amount, so we’ll use two tablespoons each of butter and regular all-purpose flour. You’ll want to melt the butter over medium to medium high heat and add the flour just before the butter starts to brown.
flour + butter = the beginnings of awesome
Then whisk it all about till it’s all a whitish liquid. Then it’s time to let it cook a little while. The roux will start to darken, going from a honey blonde to a brick red and all the way to exhaust black if you don’t watch it. We’re going for my personal favorite: slightly dirty blonde.
Not <em>that</em> dirty
Of course, I’m a little partial.

Now that we’ve managed to get the roux right where we want it, we have to work quickly from here on out. We’re going to add a decent amount of our stock. You can start at half a cup if you just have to measure things, but it’s really better to just slowly add a few splashes until it’s thinned out to where you like it.
mmmmmmm.... veal
The butter in the roux really won’t want to mix with the stock you add, oil and water being the racists they are. The flour just wants everyone to get along, but it’s kinda lazy so you’re going to have to whisk a lot. It will come together eventually, and if it’s still lumpy, add another splash of stock.

Did I mention this is going to be a brownish gravy? Do you not like that idea? Add some milk, or heavy cream if you’re so inclined. You’ll have to whisk it all in pretty hard, too.

Now, you have to let it bubble away for at least a minute. This is the only way to cook out that flour taste, and to me, it’s the most important step. It’s during this time that you’ll need to go get a spoon anyway. You have to taste it now; probably a good three or forty times. You can add some salt, pepper, maybe even garlic powder if it’ll work with your dish. Just make sure it tastes good.

It’s time to put it on something. Like say freshly fried chicken nuggets, some biscuits or maybe some chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes.

So, what have we learned? Gravy isn’t quite as hard as it seems–you know, after you figure it out. Hopefully we’ve illuminated some of the pitfalls I face-planted into the first few times I made gravy, so that you can avoid them: liquid roux at a pretty blonde, slowly add the stock or liquid, whisk it all together vigorously enough to combine (not vigorously enough to require extraneous cleaning), and let it boil away for a minute or so to cook out the bad.

Veal Stock Country Gravy
2 tbsp butter
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
4+ fluid oz of veal stock
salt and pepper to taste

Melt the butter in a round bottomed pan over medium to medium-high heat. Whisk the flour into the butter and allow to darken just past blonde. Whisk the stock in and add more if it’s still too thick. Allow the gravy to cook for at least a minute before seasoning with salt and pepper.

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