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Old 02-23-2011, 09:05 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by jcv View Post

Her instructions for the gravy were this: use equal parts flour and olive oil to make a roux (1/4 cup each) and mix it into the hot but not boiling liquid and cook to thicken.
You can make a gravy any number of ways, but assuming she is telling the truth about how she does it, I suspect that she browns her roux to a pretty toasty state, at least the color of pecans. That browning would make up for the fact that apparently she doesn't brown her roast first (though if she did, it would be better).

A good brown roux is easiest in a cast iron skillet, with a wooden spoon or paddle. Put your olive oil (I would use butter, but that's me) in a 10" cast iron skillet and heat. Dump in the flour and mix with the oil. Turn the heat down to just over low and stir occasionally, until the browning starts - in about 5 minutes. You can go with a higher heat and stir more or a lower heat and stir less, within limits. I pick the heat according to what else I have to juggle in the kitchen. Once it starts browning, pay more attention to it, stirring often, until it is a rich brown color, slightly darker than you want your gravy to end up.. Add the liquid - or at least most of it to the roux, to get it well mixed with the liquid, let it come up to heat, though it need not boil at this time, if you are putting it all back in the crockpot.

Put the beef, the roux thickened liquid and any remaining that you need to get the quantity that she serves in the crockpot, stir and let it cook.

A few thoughts.
- The darker the roux. the less thickening power it has. The starch of the flour loses its ability to gel liquids as it caramelizes.
-Olive oil is chosen by a lot of folks for its heart healthy traits, but it has a distinct flavor and little tolerance for overheating. If "heart healthy" were my goal with a pot roast dish (and it isn't), I would use canola oil.
- butter is wonderful

Were I to make a dish of unbrowned beef roast and water in a crock pot, then turn it into a tips and gravy presentation, I would use about twice as much fat and flour as she apparently does, using butter or rendered beef fat and cook that roux to a dark mahogany color. When it was about pecan colored, I would add 2 t freshly ground black pepper and a bay leaf; the still oily roux would pick up those tastes more quickly that it would after liquid is added. Moments before I was going to add the liquid, I would mix in 2 t of salt, a T of chopped garlic and 1 t of an accent herb, like rosemary or thyme. You don't want to risk the garlic stage burning.

Cornstarch and Kitchen Bouquet work; arrowroot works; kneaded butter and flour work; flour slurry works; instant mashed potatoes work (for this and little else, lol), but if you want her product, I suspect a brown roux is in your future.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:02 AM   #12
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It may be that your sil forgot either the meat browning step or the roux browning step. Each will greatly increase the flavor and color of your product. If all else fails tell your sil how very much (fawn a little) you enjoy her food and would she please guide you through it step by step. You'll melt her heart and she can't really leave anything out if you are there to watch her make the dish and to sample the final product.
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Old 02-24-2011, 12:18 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by FincaPerlitas View Post
I also prefer Gravymaster or my favorite, Bovril, but both are a bit hard to find. Kitchen Bouquet is okay so long as you don't use too much of it. It will give you the desired brown color but doesn't really add much flavor. Some of the soup/stock bases such as Glory Foods Seasoned Beef Base also work (if you can find them).
I added a little Kitchen Bouquet this evening when I made the turkey gravy.

I use granulated bullion for seasoned bases. I keep chicken and beef on hand.

I also use Ramen Noodles for the seasoning packet, as well as the Noodles when I want just enough for soup
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Old 02-24-2011, 01:26 AM   #14
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Jcv ~
My thoughts are that it is essential that the roast used for your SIL's recipe is a "pot roast" and that it is browned prior to putting in to the crock pot. (pot roasts are fattier cuts and fat means more flavor). Then for a richer gravy you might want to use beef broth or stock instead of water. I probably wouldn't bother with the roux and would just use flour and water shaken in a sealed plasticware container or a glass jar,
Be sure to use cool water. If the gravy still isn't flavorful, dark and rich enough, you might try adding some beef soup base, it's a paste, one brand sold around here is Bear Creek. Good luck!

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