Perfect Gravy Without the Bird ~ What’s your favorite part about Thanksgiving — the gorgeous bird? The ruby red cranberry sauce? The pies? Family time? Wrong. The absolute best part about Thanksgiving is the leftovers. You know what I’m talking about. After all the warm and fuzzy festivities are done, there’s that moment, the next day, in the the peace and quiet of your own kitchen, when it’s just you and your plate of leftovers. Nirvana.
Only problem is, there’s usually something missing…the gravy. There’s never enough leftover gravy to go around and so you get left high and dry. It’s a bummer. But I’ve set out to solve that problem with my friends at Swanson. I’m excited to be partnering with them because Swanson broths and stocks are the only ones I ever buy. They always have my back when I cook and I count on their quality. I think we make a pretty good team, and today we’re tackling that frustrating dilemma of dry leftovers with an easy recipe for Perfect Gravy Without the Bird!
We all know that everything is better with gravy, it raises the enjoyment factor of so many dishes, but I hardly ever think to make it because I assume I need a big old piece of meat or poultry roasting away in the oven to get the whole thing started. With Swanson chicken broth and this incredibly simple method you can have gravy on demand — instant gravy gratification — whenever you need some thick, warm gravy love. Imagine the possibilities — gravy on a Tuesday night, gravy on a rotisserie chicken — let me put it this way, you’ll never have to suffer through inadequate gravy syndrome again. You can thank me later, right now, get to your kitchen, Thanksgiving’s just around the corner!
One of the best things about this method is that there are no artificial ingredients or flavor ‘enhancers’ like you find in bottled gravies and powdered mixes. This is a simple 3-ingredient, all natural recipe and it turns out fantastic gravy. The secret is Swanson premium broth, a little bit of butter, and an ingredient you may not have heard about before, but it’s sitting right there in your cupboard. Read on…
The ingredient that turns broth or stock, and a bit of butter in to a rich thick gravy is browned flour. I know, I’d never heard of it either, but it’s amazing stuff. To make it you put plain white flour in a heavy skillet and cook in a hot oven for somewhere between 40-50 minutes. You stir every so often and eventually the snowy white flour starts to turn a nutty brown. You can actually store this stuff, after it’s cooled, in a jar and use it to make everyday gravy all year round.
You use it just like any regular flour when you are making a roux to create and thicken sauces or gravies. But because the flour has been toasted it becomes an instant deep rich brown when you add it to the melted butter. Slowly pour in your Swanson chicken broth or stock and voila — gravy — good gravy! (I wonder if that’s where the phrase comes from?) The browned flour colors, flavors, and thickens the broth and you get a quick wholesome, gravy without any of the scary ingredients that go into the bottles or envelopes. I didn’t even add salt or pepper to this, I didn’t think it needed it.
With this little jar of magical browned flour and my stash of Swanson I’m going to be upping the comfort factor of my meals all winter long.
This is just one of the many ways to make Perfect Gravy Without the Bird. There are all kinds of things you can add to your Swanson broths and stocks to make a fabulous gravy, I asked Jane Freiman, Director of Campbell’s Consumer Test Kitchen about ideas for adding color and flavor to gravy without the drippings, and she suggests caramelizing shallots, or shallots and mushrooms, for color and a rich flavor. This means simply cooking them long and slow so their natural sugars ‘caramelize’, and they turn a rich flavorful brown. If you do that you can either puree the gravy, strain out the solids, or serve it as is, depending on what texture you prefer.
I even polled my facebook friends (I hope you’re following along!) about their ideas for making great gravy without the bird and they came up with all kinds of creative ideas. Here are a few of my favorite add-ins: wine, fresh herbs, especially thyme and sage, dried mushrooms ground to a powder and dissolved in the gravy, Some people like to enrich the broth with roasted veggies like onion, celery, fennel and carrot. Some readers like to add a touch of heavy cream to give the gravy a rich finish. Other heavy flavor hitters are soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, dry vermouth or sherry. And of course there’s always the good old fashioned bouillon cube.
When it comes time to dole out my leftovers I like to layer them in large mason jars so everybody can have their own personal mini feast the next day. Stuffing and mashed potatoes can be re-moistened with broth to bring them back to life before packaging. And don’t forget the gravy!
Be sure to leave me YOUR gravy making secrets in the comments — I’d love to collect as many ideas as we can here. I’m getting hungry, how about you?
recipe adapted from Saveur
- 4 Tbsp browned flour (recipe below)
- 4 Tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 cups Swanson Chicken Stock or Broth
- salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste
- Set oven to 400F
- To make the browned flour: put the flour in a shallow pan or skillet, I used my 10" cast iron skillet. Put the skillet in the oven and toast the flour for about 40-50 minutes, stirring every 5-7 minutes or so, until the flour turns a nutty brown. You can put it in a jar after it's cooled and it will keep for a couple of months in the cupboard.
- To make the gravy, melt the butter over medium heat in a heavy skillet or pan, and add the browned flour to it, stirring until combined. Continue stirring for a minute and then slowly add the Swanson broth to the pan, stirring or whisking as you go.
- Bring the gravy to a simmer, stirring constantly. Taste and add salt and fresh cracked black pepper to taste.
- If you would like your gravy even thicker, you can whisk in some Wondra flour.
- This perfect gravy without the bird can be adapted for vegetarians, just use Swanson vegetable stock or broth.
- Use plain flour for a paler gravy.
- Confused about stock versus broth? Stocks are a little bit richer than broths, but with limited seasonings so the flavor profile is pure and the cook has complete control over flavor. When I want a stronger flavor I go with stock. I use broth when I am making soups, and it’s a perfect choice as a water replacement when cooking rices, couscous, and other grains. The flavor will infuse into the grains without overpowering.
Don’t forget to pin this Perfect Gravy Without the Bird!