Tuesday, 28 July 2009

My name's The Ample Cook and I'm a Gravyholic

My addiction to and dependency on, stock based liquids started at a very early age. My Mum was a great plain cook and every roast, pie, stew and casserole had the most wonderful gravy. Every scrap of a chicken was used - roasted, then cold with mash and pickles or bubble and squeak, then the carcass was simmered with carrots, onions and celery to make a wonderful stew, soup or gravy.

Lamb or mutton stew was a favourite, big round chunks of neck of lamb that had more bone than meat, but those bones yielded a huge depth of flavour, with carrots, onion and pearl barley. Always made the day before so that the hard layer of cream fat that formed on the top could easily be removed.

This is my drawer of loveliness. A drawer in my freezer that holds little bags and plastic pots of meat jelly saved from a roast and left over gravy. I never, ever throw any meat stock or jelly away, no matter how small as they can either form the basis of a gravy, or sauce or just enrich a stew or soup. I also keep any meat fats - beef dripping, duck fat, pork fat - all fabulous for roasting potatoes.

This however, I have to admit, is not the full picture. In my larger freezer there are many pots of chicken stock - liquid gold. In our house we are never very far away from a risotto, or onion gravy to go with our sausages and mash or a lovely rich gravy to coat left-over chicken and sauteed leeks for a yummy pie.

I will hold my hand up here and confess to being a complete gravy and stock snob. The stock that is sold in supermarkets I think is of a very poor standard and expensive. Also, why doesn't it 'set'? If it was made from bones - as it obviously should be - it would, so what's that all about?

I suppose all this obsessive behaviour stems from my fear of 'Gravy Granules' That gloopy, salty, tongue coating powder of the devil. These are the ingredients taken from a jar of 'Bisto Best' - pork flavour: Maltodextrin, potato starch, salt, flavourings, flavour enhancers (E621 E635), hydrogenated vegetable oil, colour (E150c), Emulsifier (E322) soya, spice & herb extracts & onion extract. Mmmmmmmmm yummy.

Now, doesn't this deserve good gravy?


  1. Lovely reminiscences - mutton stew mmmmm! Well you've inspired me to start saving every scrap of juice and you're so right about the gloopy sort - it's a bit like those awful low fat products all gloop and no flavour.
    Cal x

  2. You put me to shame - I'm going to try and get into the habit!! The roast dinner looks divine. xx

  3. thats too funny, what the fat content tough he he

  4. Ha.. what ever floats your (gravy) boat!

    I rarely do the Sunday roast thing, but when I do I would love to know how to make a really good gravy. Seems like you're the lady to ask. How do you make yours?

  5. Wow thats some collection you've got!

    I always make stock when I do a roast and I save the liquid from boiling a ham. My favourite use is for making soup - the stock adds a lovely depth of flavour to even the simplest soup and makes winter soup making so easy. I save all the other bits as well but I usually put them in the fridge so sometimes they get used and sometimes they get forgotten and go mouldy - just found 2 forgotten ones in their now that I've had to chuck. Must start same system as you I hate to lose all that lovely stocky/gravy/fatty goodness.

  6. Great blog. Yes, all meat deserves a good gravy!

  7. Cal- Good luck, it won't take long to build up your own little treasure trove :)

    Diane - Thank you

    Chow & Chatter - ?

    Graphic Foodie - While you're joint of meat is 'resting' just skim off most of the fat, then a little flour stirred into the juices along with some stock (and any meat jelly you've saved in the freezer!)and just let it simmer. Putting some onion, carrot & celery - sometimes garlic in with the roast also improves the flavour of the gravy. Shame you don't live nearer I'd love to cook you a Sunday lunch!

    Margaret - Thank you very much. Yes it does!;)

  8. Goodshoeday - You're absolutely right about the soup Linda - it's a different beast with proper stock isn't it? I've been known to take the chicken carcasses home from friends houses as I know they'll bin them! I need to get out more.

  9. Jan - really impressive collection of stocks, jellys, gravys etc I'd never considered saving the jelly or leftover gravy, what a fantastic idea.

  10. Question-

    We often get cooked pork hock from the butcher and I've always thrown away the 'jelly' stuff that surrounds it. I'm thinking I've not been doing a good thing here, lol.

    Is it 'good stuff' and for what. Please.

  11. The dripping worked a treat - now have small jar of lovely looking fatty goodness. Do you use once or can it be used a few times recall in ye olden days ie 1970s my grandma used to use it 3 times???

    And on matter of gravy -I have aversion to flour in it - mental not physical thing so I only pour off some of the fat and if you boil it quite vigorously it emulsifies with the juices (and added wine!) into really good glossy gravy - nom nom.

  12. Crazy gravy collection - fantastic!

  13. Thanks for the recipe - shall try. And thank you for the invite - if I'm in the area I shall let you know to get the roast on!

    Just moving to a new house from a very small flat so I will have a decent freezer now. You have inspired me to have my own meat jelly collection drawer :)

  14. You know what's weird? I've always doubted my stock making abilities because I've never been sure whether it should set or not, especially chicken. Yes I've been looking at the supermarket stuff for comparison. You've put my mind at ease now.

    Excellent collection btw!