Monday, August 17, 2009

White Milk Gravy

Gravy is one of the most versatile foods on the planet. This simple mixture of fat, flour and milk is what REALLY makes Chicken Fried Steak (Country Fried Steak) so awesome. I know that some folks like to put brown gravy on this, but you gotta try the white stuff - as the saying goes, "try it, you'll like it."

Gravy can be put on more than steak. It goes on mashed potatoes, chicken, biscuits, toast, and sausage to name a few. I have tried putting this stuff on just about everything, including a flour tortilla - don't knock it - makes a goooooooood burrito! Mix it with a little taco meat and it is one of the best fillings around. If you like salsa, throw it in too!! I normally love cheese in my burritos - with gravy in there, you don't even miss it.

Anyway, I will try to keep from drooling all over the keyboard and I will give you a simple recipe and method for creating this versatile sauce. This is one of my childhood favorites. Growing up in New Mexico, I had lots of family members that made great gravy. I always thought that milk gravy had to be white, so my first exposure to milk gravy that was brown shocked me.

One of my aunts liked brown milk gravy and on one of my visits she "burnt the flour" on the gravy - I was only about 6 and I was mortified! She ruined the gravy! My aunt was very kind and made a second batch of "normal" gravy for her shocked nephew. I will always remember this and will state to you that the level of caramelization you give the flour is a personal preference - it is a key ingredient in some soup bases. (Yes, gravy makes an awesome base for a soup - thick and rich - just add your flavoring items to it.) So much for the story - recipe time...


1 skillet or deep pan - at least one to two quart capacity
A spoon or wire whisk for stirring


one half cup of oil - preferably drippings from sausage, bacon, or fried chicken**
one half cup of all purpose flour ***
Milk to thin the gravy with - this varies - so get a couple of cups to start with
Salt and Pepper to taste

  1. Place the pan on a large burner on the stove set to medium heat.
  2. Put Oil in the pan, let it warm for a minute then add the flour. Mix with the spoon or whisk to form a Roux (this is the key to a lot of sauces - equal parts of flour and oil).
  3. Stir the mixture until it bubbles and the flour is as brown as you like.
  4. Reduce your heat by half then SLOWLY add a little milk, stirring quickly with your spoon or whisk. You should have a thick paste forming. If you add the milk too quickly, you will get a bunch of lumps. Small lumps are easily dissolved, but big ones make lumpy gravy. The goal here is to make a paste. Keep adding milk until the paste starts to become thin enough to still cover the back of a spoon.
  5. Add salt to taste.
  6. Now that the hard part is done, and you have a thin gravy, you want to bring the heat back up to medium and bring the liquid in the pan to a good simmer. You MUST stir constantly at this point to keep the flour from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Once the gravy reaches a light boil, it should be getting close to being fully thickened. Note: It is easier to dilute the gravy rather than to boil it long enough to thicken a really thin gravy.
  7. The key item in this process is to get rid of the pasty taste of the flour. Once it is fully cooked you need to add your final salt to it and finally, your pepper.


Always remember that a Roux is one-half flour, one half oil - simple, but good! This is how you control how much gravy you are making.

**(I like to make chicken gravy after frying my buttermilk chicken, just get some of the fat out of the pan, making sure to get any loose crumbs that are dark brown, NOT black.)

***if you have some leftover dredging flour from frying chicken, remove any lumps and use this stuff - why waste it?

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