Dec 03, 2019

Let’s Talk About Gravies & Sauces!

By Maryann Miano

Just like icing is the topping of a cake (and agreeably the best part, as any kid will tell you), so is the gravy or sauce the tastiest topping to a beautiful, tender cut of meat. This season, as you present your holiday table with all the trimmings, the piece de resistance of any meal is the roast. What you decide to top it with can be the most delicious accompaniment for the meat from which it comes and is an essential feature of a meat dish.

What exactly is gravy? This “cooking juice” comes from the meat itself and contains the residue left in the pan after roasting meat. It is deglazed with stock or other liquid and seasoned carefully, thickened with a roux or another starch (usually a spoonful of flour or cornstarch). The pan can be deglazed with wine or other alcohol or a little stock, then more liquid may be added and boiled until it reduces to a slightly thick consistency. A French jus is a thinner, full-flavored gravy.

What is the difference between a sauce and gravy? Gravy is made in the same pan in which the meat or fish has been cooked, and almost always from all the juices extracted during cooking. A sauce, on the other hand, is a liquid or cream that dresses a dish and usually is made on its own with various ingredients, including fruits.

The rule for making gravy for roasts is fairly simple: to make about one cupful of gravy, strain the juices and bits that are left behind in the roasting pan after your roast is done, into a glass or cup and place it in cold water. The fat will rise quickly. Take what you need for your gravy measurement. Skim off the rest and use it later as drippings. The remaining liquid in the cup will be good for your gravy, but if there is not enough you will have to add stock, a bouillon cube or canned soup to make up the remainder.

TO MAKE GRAVY FROM A ROAST: (pork, beef, turkey, etc.)

  • Melt over low heat (use the pan your roast was made in): 3 tablespoons of fat
  • Blend in: 2 tablespoons flour. (For quick results, make a thin paste of flour and water in a cup. Stir as much as needed into the hot stock and drippings while the gravy boils.)
  • Stir in slowly: 1 cup of stock (can use store bought)
  • Cook and whisk the gravy until it is smooth and boiling, stirring quickly.
  • Season it with: Salt, paprika, pepper, minced herbs, and/or grated lemon rind, or season with whatever you enjoy.
  • Set aside in a gravy boat for guests to top on their meat.

Some ideas for sauces for other holiday meats:

WINE SAUCE FOR HAM (You can omit ingredients that do not appeal to your taste.)


  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • A dash of cayenne¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1½ cups red wine or port wine
  • ½ cup seedless raisins
  • ½ cup almonds, blanched and slivered

Simmer the sauce covered for 8 minutes.

Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch into 2 tablespoons cold water.  Stir this into the sauce.  Let it simmer for 2 minutes.

Stir in:

  • ¼ cup tart jelly
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange and lemon rind
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice

SAUCE FOR STEAK:  makes about ¼ cup full and is good on broiled meat or fish.

  • Melt: 3 tablespoons butter
  • Add: 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce (optional)
  • Salt
  • Pepper or paprika