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Good Gravy

Nothing spells home cooking like a big bowl of gravy to complement meats, side dishes, and breads. Sorry to say, some of us weren’t born to be natural gravy makers and we have had to work hard to get rid of lumps and seasoning woes. With a little practice, you can pass up the powdered packets in your local grocery and create your own good gravy.

4 Tablespoons olive oil, divided in half
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup beef broth
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 green onions, finely chopped (white part only)
1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped fine
2 large ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, finely chopped
3/4 cup ketchup
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

Heat half the olive oil in skillet until hot. Add flour and whisk until roux is cooked and mixture becomes a medium-brown color. Gradually stir in broth and whisk until hot. Heat remaining oil in another skillet over medium heat until hot. Add garlic, green onions, and green pepper. Sauté 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Add tomato; reduce heat and simmer 2 to 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Combine with gravy mixture and remaining ingredients and simmer, stirring constantly, 8 to 10 minutes. Serve over meatloaf and mashed potatoes. Makes 3 cups.

I consider this more a technique based on personal taste than the usual recipe using measurements. You may want to experiment using different amounts of brewed coffee to adjust the strength to your liking.

I must add that in all my years of traveling Kentucky and being served red-eye gravy, I’ve never met a Bluegrass cook that doesn’t know how to nail it. Kentucky is the home of red-eye gravy for my taste.

Fry country ham slices in a cast-iron skillet. Remove the ham and keep warm. Pour approximately 1/2 cup of black coffee or a combination of both coffee and water (depending on taste) into the drippings. Many cooks tell me they like to add a teaspoon or two of butter at this point. Bring to a boil, stirring and scraping the dregs off the bottom of the pan. Continue stirring and boiling for a minute or two, until gravy reduces by half. Pour the gravy over country ham and spoon over grits for a sensational breakfast.

1/4 cup pan juices from roasted chicken
1 Tablespoon flour
2 teaspoons poultry seasoning
1 cup chicken stock
1 cup water
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1 (15-oz.) can pear halves, drained
1 (16-oz.) can whole-berry cranberry sauce
1 sprig fresh rosemary

Remove chicken to cutting board and cover with foil while making gravy. Remove most of the fat from the drippings, and pour drippings into medium skillet. Over medium heat, make a roux by adding flour and poultry seasoning to the pan drippings. Whisk until flour is cooked; add other liquids slowly and incorporate. Add remaining ingredients. Cook over medium heat until gravy begins to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 10 minutes, then remove rosemary sprig; carve chicken and serve with gravy. Serves 8.

Pan drippings from beef roast (such as prime rib or sirloin, prepared according to your own recipe)
6-8 cups button mushrooms, sliced
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
Sprig fresh rosemary
1 teaspoon crushed garlic
Pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/3 cup red wine (or chicken broth)
2 cups beef broth

When beef roast reaches l45° (medium), remove from oven, plate it, and cover with foil. While roast is standing, make gravy. Place roasting pan over burner. Over medium heat, add mushrooms to several spoons of pan drippings (3 or 4 Tablespoons) and stir approximately 3 to 5 minutes. Add flour and stir until mushrooms are coated. Add mustard, rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Gradually whisk in wine and/or broths. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer, whisking often, about 5 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings, if desired, and remove rosemary sprig. Serves 8-12.

1 lb. fresh pork sausage (hot or mild)
1 teaspoon salt
1-1/2 teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
1-1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 cup half-and-half
1 cup milk

Crumble sausage and brown in skillet over medium heat. Add salt, pepper, and butter; cook over low heat about 5 minutes. Sprinkle flour over sausage mixture and mix well. Slowly add half-and-half and milk and continue cooking until mixture begins to boil and thicken. Serve over hot biscuits. Serves 4-6.

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