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Gravy is a rich tasting and generally fattening sauce, most commonly made from pan drippings and juices derived from cooking meat, although nearly any thickened sauce can be referred to as gravy. To make gravy, excess grease is removed and the remaining juice is thickened, most frequently by adding flour or corn starch and stirring until smooth.
To avoid making lumpy gravy, mix cornstarch with a bit of water until dissolved, then pour the mixture into boiling liquid and stir rapidly until thick and smooth. Turn down the heat and simmer a few minutes longer. Cornstarch has fewer calories than flour and seems to absorb less of the flavor. Flour may create a bland taste, unless it is first made into a roux by mixing it with butter. Some people also like to add a bit of food coloring or a browning sauce such as Kitchen Bouquet to gravy to give it a richer color and make it look more appetizing.
Gravy can be made from the drippings of various meats, including turkey, chicken, pork, and beef. Breakfast gravy may be made from sausage drippings by thickening and adding milk for a creamy consistency. Bits of sausage may also be mixed in for added flavor. Sausage gravy is generally served over biscuit, as a traditional southern style favorite, although it may also be served with toast. Milk gravy may also be made from other meats and served at other meals besides breakfast. It is often served with biscuits, over potatoes, or ladled directly over meat.
Making gravy most likely began as a way of avoiding waste. Using every bit of available food was often necessary in times past. When one was able to make an entire pan of gravy from leftover meat juices, a bit of flour, and a little water, he or she could expand a meal and make it not only richer and tastier, but also more filling.
There are also various types of ready to use gravies and gravy mixes available at most grocery stores. They come in cans and jars or envelopes of dry mix. Mixes are simple to make and usually only require the addition of water. There are different brands, most of which are very affordable. Look for these products near soups and other sauces or near other envelopes of dry seasoning mix.