By Samantha Gianulis – Apron Strings

Make your own gravy, please. Just listen to what I have to say. It’s so easy, don’t buy it already made. I believe homemade gravy to be the holiday food which pays highest dividends for the least amount of attention.

Yield: 6 cups of gravy.

4 cups of strained pan juices – from roasted turkey, chicken, beef, or combination of all three
1 stick of unsalted butter
1/2 cup of Wondra gravy flour
1/2 cup of chicken stock or broth
optional: 1/4 cup heavy cream

In a large, heavy pan over medium-high heat, melt butter and flour together, whisk until you get a roux.

When roux is the color of sand, add pan juices and mix well with wooden spoon or whisk.

When it begins to get thick (it sticks to the back of the wooden spoon), add chicken stock.

Stir until smooth and gravy is not too tight but not to loose. You can always add more chicken broth if needed.
Add cream towards the end of the cooking process.

Then again, attention is a relative term. But imagine, if you will – smooth, silky sable brown gravy. It glistens with droplets of gold. Steam rises from your homemade gravy as it waits in your grandmother’s gravy boat of a no longer manufactured china pattern she managed to save during the war. It has scents of herbs, roasted meat, cream and sweet butter…all of the wonderful ingredients that went into this bountiful reduction. And the most important ingredient was love. Follow my steps, it will show.

I admit, homemade gravy requires preparation and attention. I’ve been straining pan juices for more than a month now; pot roast pan juices, roasted chicken pan juices, and turkey breast pan juices.

Pan juices are just what they sound like; the liquid/juice/gravy/schmaltz (I do NOT call it grease) that is left behind in the pan after you roast or slow cook a large piece of meat or poultry. After I strain the pan juices from my braised and roasted meats, I freeze them in ice cube trays.

Straining is necessary, as you want your gravy – the finished product – to be smooth. You only require the liquid remnants of the roasted meat. However, you can (and I have) removed the roasted bird or pot roast and set it aside, then puree the pan juices with any vegetables you roasted in the pan along with the meat prior to straining. You will get more flavor and depth this way, but it’s a little messier and more time consuming.

Hanukkah and Christmas mornings – our family celebrates both – I begin defrosting the pan juices so I can get a head start on the gravy. It is more than a side dish, not a garnish, not a carbohydrate, not protein, not a vegetable. What is gravy?

It is necessary, under-rated, and too often rushed through. Try eating your holiday dinner without it and see what happens (bad), attempt making it from scratch and watch what unfolds (good).

Christmas morning this year, the kids and I started out with 4 cups of strained, frozen pan juices. While the pan juices were defrosting in a heavy pot, we made the roux in a separate pan. We added the pan juices to the roux, along with 1/2 cup of chicken broth.

That was it – the gravy was done. Homemade, pure and everlasting.
Those months of straining pan juices, that formulaic process of making a roux, this simple effort for such a delicious return yielded six cups of goes-on-everything perfection. I took it to my parents house for our holiday dinner and the relief of not having to cook the homemade gravy delighted my frazzled mother, and my father’s tummy made some type of hungry growl. It impressed all of the guests. It was one less thing to buy. And best of all, my kids did it with me.

We carry on tradition by performing what our souls crave.

When the kids asked me Christmas morning “What are we having at Grandma’s tonight, Momma?”

Let me show you. I’ll teach you some tradition and how to cook for yourself from scratch, to waste nothing and preserve what is worthy, that’s what we’ll do. And then tonight at the supper table, you can walk from person to person who has gravy atop their turkey and mashed potatoes, declaring proudly, “I made that.”

Everything’s just gravy, you will see.

Helene Rodriques

Helene Rodriques is a chef who cares about health she is agraduate of Keiser University Center for Culinary Arts, specializing in healthy foods. She is a teacher, lecturer & consultant on Wholefoods cooking Her kitchen provides traditional family cooking, tips to learn how to cook as well as new twists on recipes to make them healthier. RodriquesApron Strings Cooking ColumnCooking and Recipes,Emotional and Social Well-being,Family FunBy Samantha Gianulis - Apron StringsMake your own gravy, please. Just listen to what I have to say. It's so easy, don't buy it already made. I believe homemade gravy to be the holiday food which pays highest dividends for the least amount of attention.HOMEMADE GRAVY Yield: 6 cups of...Parenting Advice| Family Fun Activities for Kids