Gravy to Get Ahead of the Game

In our household, Jamie Oliver get first dibs for his sauces and gravies – well the ones that use meat anyway.  Veggie gravies are a constant work-in-progress to reach our gravy utopia where flavour isn’t overwhelmed by mushroom or onion.  In our Carnivore/Herbivore pushmepullyou meals we can never agree on whether to have a 100% veggie gravy or make two to appease both camps.

Especially at Christmas, when tempers are as hot as the oven by the time the turkey is anywhere close to the table, anything that makes life easier is a godsend.  We can put a regular roast on the table as smoothly as you please, but add some jingle bells (and an early morning cocktail) and catastrophe isn’t far away.

So, a meat gravy you can make in advance and freeze – it’s genius and we can’t believe we have never done this in the past!  The veggie gravy can be treated the same way – and what could be easier (except for forgetting to take it out of the freezer…)?

Note – this Jamie recipe is fairly pale in colour.  If you prefer a rich dark gravy then you may need to add a little old-fashioned gravy browning.



Meaty Get-ahead gravy


Makes 1 litre

  • 2 celery sticks , trimmed and roughly chopped
  • 2 carrots , roughly sliced
  • 2 onions , peeled and quartered
  • 5 fresh bay leaves
  • 5 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
  • 2 star anise
  • 2 rashers of smoked streaky bacon , the best quality you can afford
  • 8 higher-welfare chicken wings
  • olive oil
  • sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons plain flour
  • 60 ml sherry or port , optional
  • 2 heaped dessert spoons cranberry sauce , for finishing
Preheat the oven to 200ºC/400ºF/gas 6. Put the veg, herbs and star anise into a sturdy bottomed roasting tray. Scatter the bacon on top. Break the chicken wings open then put them onto a board and bash the bones up with the end of a rolling pin; this will release more of their flavour. Put them in the pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle over a few pinches of salt and pepper then toss everything together and put the tray in the oven to cook for 1 hour, or until the meat is tender and falling off the bone.

Take the pan out of the oven, and put it on a hob over a low heat and use a potato masher to really grind and mash everything up. Keep mashing, moving and scraping all the goodness from the bottom of the pan as you go. Gradually mix in the flour to thicken the mixture. The longer you let everything fry, the darker your gravy will be. When the flour is combined pour in 2 litres of hot water, turn the heat up and bring to the boil for 10 minutes, till thickened, then turn down the heat and simmer for about 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. If you want to add 60ml sherry or port for flavour, do that now.

When it’s reached the consistency you’re looking for, check the seasoning then push it through a sieve into a large bowl. Really push and mash everything through so you get as much flavour as possible. Discard anything left behind. Once it has cooled down to room temperature put it into containers or freezer bags and pop it in your freezer. You’ll finish it off on Christmas Day.

Finishing the gravy
To finish the gravy, take your it out of the freezer when you’re ready to cook your turkey. That way, it will defrost as your turkey cooks. When the turkey is perfectly cooked, put a carving fork inside the cavity and use that to pick the bird up and tilt it over the pan so all of the juices inside run out.

Spoon away as much of the fat as possible, then pour your pre-made gravy into the pan with the rest of the turkey juices. Bring it to the boil over the hob and scrape all those flavourful bits and pieces from the bottom of the pan. Have a taste then add the cranberry sauce. It won’t taste sweet but it will add a wicked background flavour.

Once your gravy is piping hot, strain it through a sieve and into a pan. Leave that on the lowest heat to tick away until you’re ready to serve. Skim away any fat that rises to the top and add any extra resting juices from the turkey before serving.

Recipe: The Best Vegetarian Gravy


Veggie Gravy is probably one of the hardest things to make from scratch, don’t you think?  The combination to add to reach a perfect flavour is really difficult and needs constant attention.  It tastes better with butter but a vegan version is almost as good, but only if you use a really good olive oil.
The trick here is in the heating and to treat all ingredients like glass – gentle cooking and simmering.  We have tried lots of recipes and initially were horrified by adding marmite, (marmite…gravy??nahhh!!!) but you really can’t taste it and even a little adds a dark golden rich colour.


  • 1.6 litres cups good vegetable stock
  •  250ml good, dry white wine
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 100g butter (to make it vegan, substitute a good olive oil
  • 1 minced shallot, optional
  • 60g plain flour
  • 1 1/2 tbspn soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon Marmite
  • Seasoning


  1. Pour the vegetable stock into a medium pot and drop in the shiitakes. Bring stock to a boil over high heat, then remove from heat and let mushrooms steep for 30 minutes. Pour stock and mushrooms into large spouted measuring cup or bowl, and wipe out the pot with a paper towel.
  2. Add the butter to the empty pot and melt over medium-high heat. If using the shallot, add and cook for a minute or so, whisking once or twice. Add the flour and cook, whisking, until it turns very lightly golden, about two minutes. Pour in the stock with the mushrooms in a stream, whisking the whole time. Add soy sauce, marmite, and a few grinds of pepper.
  3. Bring stock back to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, until gravy is reduced by almost half, about 20 minutes. Taste for seasoning and add salt and additional pepper if desired. Remove mushrooms before serving.

Preparation time: 5 minute(s)

Cooking time: 30 minute(s)

Number of servings: 12

Adapted from The Best Vegetarian Gravy by Umamigirl

Gravy to Get Ahead of the Game

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