After a snap poll of Standard Issue staffers, we came to the conclusion everyone has a signature dish they’re willing to brag about. Ruth Bratt reckons she has it nailed when it comes to making gravy. Don’t tell her mum, though.
I Make the Best…. Gravy
Fuller dish description: Erm… gravy. It’s the liquid that makes a roast dinner edible. Or, I prefer to think of it as soup. I like to drink it like soup.
When did you first make it? I always helped my mum make it, even when I was a vegetarian, and she learned from my grandmother. But I first made it on my own when I moved out of my parents’ house, and started eating meat (so when I was about 26).
In their house, only my mum is allowed to make it because she makes the best gravy. Except now I do, though I’d never dare tell her that, just as my grandfather never dared tell my grandmother that her daughter had surpassed her in the gravy-making stakes.
When did you realise it was the best? (and who has certified it as such?) When I started drinking the gravy I made the day after. As soup. No leftovers. Just the gravy. And if I’m feeling really gluttonous I’ll dip bread in it. Mmmm. My fella has certified it “the best gravy”.
How often do you make it? Whenever I make a roast. You can only make proper gravy if there’s meat juice. And I always make a LOT of it so that the next day there’ll be gravy soup. I got that habit from my mum.
Have you ever tasted anyone else’s version of this, which had you worried? My mum’s version. She makes AMAZING gravy. (But I think I prefer my gravy now, so…)
Is this the only thing you make well? No. I love cooking. I make brilliant scones. I’ve just discovered I can make great jam. And I make a really, really good tomato sauce, which is the base for most of my cooking – I was a vegetarian for a long time…
Flour (or arrowroot if you’re gluten free)
Water (preferably from the vegetables)
Gravy browning (optional)
Take the meat out of the roasting pan, making sure you’ve let as much of the meat juice run into the pan as you can.
Tip the pan so that the fat sits on top of the juices and skim off as much of the fat without taking the juices from underneath.
Stir the flour into the juices on the heat so that it makes a paste. Then, much like making a white sauce, add liquid a little at a time, and stir in, either using the back of a wooden spoon, or a whisk.
If you’re not using flour, you can use the water you’ve used to cook your potatoes in – the starch will help your gravy thicken. I use the water I’ve cooked the vegetables in, and some homemade stock. (I make really good stock too!)
Once the paste has become completely liquid you can add as much liquid as you like and just keep it on the heat until you’re ready for it. This is where you can add in gravy browning if you want. It’s great. It’s basically caramel. Mmmm. You can also add any salt and pepper now.
Once you’ve carved the meat, you can pour any of the juices that have come out of that into the gravy and it’ll taste better. If you haven’t used flour to thicken the gravy, you can take some of the gravy out, mix it with arrowroot until you’ve got a liquid, and then put that into the gravy and it’ll thicken up that way.
And that’s it. It’s easy. I mean, it’s a bit hot and time consuming, but it’s so, so much better than Bisto.
Find out what our other contributors make best of all here.
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Ruth is an improviser, comedian, actor, writer and the short half of double act Trodd en Bratt. She is rapidly becoming a middle class cliche who likes to bake and knit. Ruth is in Showstopper! The Improvised Musical currently in Edinburgh and about to embark on a West End run. www.theshowstoppers.org