The perfect gravy for a roast dinner

gravy, roast, BBC, meat, bone marrow, jus, juice, homecook, besthomecook, meal, roast dinner, roastdinner

A delicious gravy brings together all the accompanying dishes in the most harmonious way to really make a roast shine. This recipe is my go-to gravy for all manner of roasts. A selection of some of my favourite roast accompaniments (including fool-proof Yorkshire Puddings and the best roast potatoes) is at the bottom of the page.

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The tricks to a great gravy include:

  • using those precious juices from the meat being roasted
  • vegetables underneath the meat while it cooks
  • reducing everything once it is in the pan

While I sometimes use a homemade stock, I often go for a good quality commercial stock – either the liquid stock that comes in pouches or the gel stocks. However, just water and the juices from the meat and any vegetables you might boil give a terrific gravy.

Alcohol is not essential but I do love a generous spash of either red wine, white wine or dry cider.

Roasting off some chicken wings adds further intensity of flavour- they’re a great ingredient, especially given how inexpensive they are.

I occasionally get some bone marrow from the butchers, roast it with the meat for about 10-15 minutes or so to slightly melt, and then scoop it into the gravy at the end: I sometimes let it melt fully into the gravy and at other times add some just as I serve so it retains a little of its texture initially. Either way, bone marrow adds a gorgeous richness and a lovely mouth-feel.

Getting ahead

If getting ahead – such as a day or so before – you can roast the chicken wings in the oven (about 200C) for about 50 minutes or so until deep golden. Then pop them into a saucepan and add water, wine, stock and herbs and then get that reduced to about half its volume.

You can even thicken it at this stage if you prefer and leave in the fridge, so that all you do on the day is add the meat juices and the squashed, flavour-heavy vegetables that you will have cooked under the meat.  Just don’t forget to add those meat juices once it has rested!

Recipe: my perfect gravy for any roast – serves about 6

  • 1 large onion, sliced thickly (no need to peel!)
  • a couple of carrots, sliced thickly (no need to peel)
  • 3 or 4 chicken wings, optional
  • 1 star anise
  • 1 bay leaf or a few sprigs of thyme or rosemary
  • about 1 litre water from cooking the vegetables (or use stock)
  • 1-2 glasses of wine of choice or cider
  • 1 tablespoon cornflour
  • 1 tablespoon redcurrant jelly
  • a spritz or two of lemon juice
  • salt and pepper to season

(1) Pop the onion and carrots into the roasting tin and place the meat you will be roasting on top. Keep them there until the roast is cooked: they will go mushy, deep golden brown and will have taken on some of the delicously intense meat juices.

NB: if using chicken wings, add them around the side of the roasting meat so they can go deep golden – these will add a further depth of flavour to the finished gravy.

(2) Once the meat has come out of the oven and is resting, put the chicken wings, the squashed onions and carrots, the star anise and the herbs into a large pan along with the juices in the roasting pan – there will be more juices as the meat rests further and these can be added to the gravy later.

NB: use a wooden spoon to squash the roasted chicken wings , to release as much flavour as possible.

(3) Heat the pan until simmering and add the wine/cider. Cook  gently for about 30 minutes until reduced to about half and add the stock or water. Remove the star anise at this point (if you leave it in too long, the gravy will take on too much of an aniseed flavour, but the flavour it adds at this stage with give a depth without any aniseed intensity).

(4) Bring to a simmer and cook down gently until also reduced to about half. Empty into another pan through a large sieve or colander, pressing to extract as much liquid and flavour as possible.

(5) Add any of the meat juices that have come out of the meat while it rests along with the redcurrant jelly, stirring until it has melted. Bring to a simmer.

(6) While the liquid is coming back to the simmer, put a little cold water into a cup or ramekin and stir in the cornflour to give a smooth white paste. Pour this into the gravy pan, stirring all the time, and let it simmer for about 5 minutes to cook through. Add more cornflour/water mixture if you want a thicker gravy.

(7) Season with a little salt and pepper as well as a spritz of lemon juice.

Other perfect accompaniments to a roast dinner

Yorkshire puddings: the secrets to perfect Yorkshire Puddings every time is here

For the best carrots (honeyed, with parsley and just a hint of truffle!): my ultimate carrots

For a fabulous Brussels sprouts dish: my perfect Brussels sprouts

For the very best roast potatoes every time: perfect roast potatoes

For the best pigs in blankets, glazed with honey and thyme and stuffed with apricots and cranberry sauce: pigs in blankets

For my favourite stuffing (inside the meat and/or cooked separately), which included herbs, apricots, nuts and sausagemeat: stuffing

Author: Philip

Finalist on Britain’s Best Home Cook (BBC Television 2018). Published recipe writer with a love of growing fruit & veg, cooking, teaching and eating good food.

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