Homemade vs. Packaged
First things first. Never make gravy out of a package. Why? Because packaged gravy almost always results in a thick, powdery tasting, gelatinous glob. The minimal effort required to make a good gravy from scratch is absolutely worth it. Trust us. Besides, if you’ve already gone to the trouble of making a roast, a few minutes more for something that won’t ruin your lovely chicken dinner is time well spent.
The key to a good gravy is a homemade chicken stock. Yes, making chicken stock can be time consuming, but you can make the stock well in advance and refrigerate it or freeze it until needed. It’s also dead easy to make. There are two ways to make a chicken stock–one using a whole raw chicken and another using the leftover carcass of an already cooked and eaten chicken. We’ve already shown you how to make a stock using a raw chicken so now we’ll teach you how to make a stock using the carcass and leftover bones.
Place the carcass and bones into a large stock pot along with a quartered onion (leave the skin on), a couple of roughly chopped celery stalks, a chopped carrot, a few bay leaves and handful of parsley. You can also add some peppercorns, several crushed garlic cloves, and even a few sprigs of thyme. Over time you can experiment with flavours and adapt the ingredients to suit your tastes, but this basic recipe will produce an extremely flavourful stock that’s perfect for gravies and soups. You can get double-duty out of your vegetables by saving the ends of carrots and other vegetables from other recipes in a bag in the freezer. Making stock is in no way a scientific process, so don’t feel like things have to be exact.
With all your ingredients in the pot, add enough cold water to cover it and then some, about 4 litres. Bring to a boil over high-heat and reduce and let simmer uncovered for at least 4 hours. Remove from heat, discard the carcass and strain the liquid into a large jar or heatproof container. Let cool before refrigerating. You’ll notice that a layer of fat will form on your stock, once chilled. This can be discarded before reheating.
Stock will keep for about 3 days in the fridge, but can also be frozen for up to 3 months. If freezing, portion your stock into 1 cup servings or into an ice cube tray so you don’t have to unfreeze the entire batch.
Ok, so you’ve roasted the perfect chicken. Now it’s gravy time. While your chicken is resting, place the roasting pan on an element over medium-low heat (or across two elements if your pan is quite large), and with a wooden spoon, scrape up all the yummy brown bits. Add 1 heaping tablespoon of flour, stirring quickly until it forms a smooth paste, also known as a roux. Then, a little bit at a time, add your hot stock while continuously stirring so no lumps form. You’ll need about 2-3 cups of stock, depending on how thick you want it. If you like your gravy a little thicker then 2 cups will be enough. Simply add more stock if you prefer your gravy a little thinner. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
While we think this gravy is absolutely perfect on its own, you can experiment with additional flavours including adding a splash of white wine or cream to your gravy, herbs such as thyme or rosemary, or even a few pats of butter to the roasting pan at the end for a richer more luxurious gravy.
Your perfect roast chicken definitely won’t NEED gravy, but for those dinners you want to make just a little bit more special, this recipe will more than do the trick.