“Do we have any gravy?”
That’s the sort of question you might dread, if the roast turned out to be more well-done than you’d intended. But that wasn’t the case. It was 10 PM on a Tuesday and she was in the shower.
“No,” I called back, “but I’m sure I can make some.”
“Right,” she said. “Because you’re the kind of guy who makes gravy.”
Well, how else would one get gravy? There are jarred versions sold in stores, I suppose. She had a jar in the City House kitchen for a long while, but I don’t remember what happened to it.
I’m sure I can make some.
I wasn’t sure at all, in fact. After Sunday’s Chicken Debacle, I wasn’t at all confident about my ability to make toast, much less gravy. It got me thinking. Gravy was routinely on the dinner table when I was growing up. But somewhere along the line tastes changed, or at least styles of eating did. We have sushi, ratatouille, and sandwiches-on-the-go, but gravy doesn’t happen all the time. My grandmother and mother could have made gravy without thinking twice about it, but we get it from the supermarket.
While Sunday’s chicken was in the oven, I’d cooked the neck and giblets into a saucepan with a cup or two of water, discarded the neck, chopped the giblets and put them aside. I wasn’t sure what to do with them, but it had seemed like the right thing to do. Once the chicken finally came out of the oven, I reserved and de-fatted the drippings from the roasting pan. I didn’t dare try to use them at the time; I was happy enough to have food on the table without the possibility of botching a condiment. But it meant that, on Tuesday night, I had in the fridge a ramekin of rich chicken bits and a container of homemade stock. I was most of the way to gravy.
I just had to look up what to do with it. Something thickens gravy–a roux? A–what’s that word–a slurry? Right, that’s it. (The internet was faster than a cookbook.)
I sautéed some chopped mushrooms in a little olive oil (because: why not?), added the diced giblets to reheat, added most of the stock and brought it to boil. I barely warmed the last quarter-cup of stock and put it into a Mason jar with a tablespoon of all-purpose flour, lidded the jar, and shook it ’til there were no lumps. I added the slurry to the saucepan and whisked. And magic occurred. Well, not magic, but gravy. Silky-looking chicken gravy.
In pajamas after her shower, she came to the kitchen to scramble the eggs that would accompany the grits she wanted for her late supper.
“You made gravy!”
I might have grinned a little. “Where would you like it?”
“Oh,” she said. “I was thinking over some of the roasted vegetables for lunch tomorrow.”
Well, of course. Who puts gravy on scrambled eggs?
Actually, that sounded kind of wonderful.
I put a little egg-and-grits in a tiny bowl, spooned a little gravy over it, and took a taste. It wasn’t the umami-bomb of store-bought, but gentler—not too salty, studded with bits of mushroom and giblets and flecked with a little black pepper. It tasted like home.
I’ll probably screw up dinner again at some point, probably badly enough that we end up ordering pizza. But tonight, there was gravy. I’d like to think Mom and Grandma would be proud. Or maybe they’d just shake their heads and say, “He had to look that up?”
Epilogue: “I don’t need anything for lunch,” she said this morning. “I’ve got things in the office fridge from yesterday.”