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Old 02-23-2011, 08:28 AM   #1
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Please help me with this pot roast

My sister in-law makes this great pot roast.... well, it's really just beef chunks and gravy she serves over mashed potatoes. For years, when we go to her house for parties she's served this and we love it.

Last week we were there and my wife asked her how to make it. All she does is put a beef roast in the crock pot the day before. She fills the crock with water over the top of the roast and cooks it for 8 hours. She saves all the liquid most of which she uses for soup. The next day she uses some of the liquid to make gravy and chops up the roast and puts it back in the crock pot with the gravy to warm everything up.

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. OK, I did this and here's where things went horribly wrong! Instead of my gravy being a nice brown color like hers it was a light tan and instead of it tasting fantastic like hers it was the worst tasting sludge I've ever had. I tossed it, made up 2 packages of Mcormick's brown gravy and served it that way.

My wife is never going to call her sis in-law to get this figured out so I was hoping to get some guidance here. What do you folks suggest? How can I make a nice gravy with the liquid from my roast?

Thanks in advance for any advice.
Jay

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Old 02-23-2011, 08:40 AM   #2
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Did you brown your meat really well before cooking it? You really need to do that to get a dark meaty taste. You also might have used too much water.

When you make any roux-based sauce, combine the fat and flour into a smooth paste, cook for a minute or two and then add the liquid into the paste in a thin stream while whisking constantly.
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Old 02-23-2011, 09:38 AM   #3
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As Jennyema suggests, browning the meat before cooking will certainly help with both flavor and color. However, the most important advice is to use less liquid. You want the flavor to be more concentrated in both the meat and the gravy. Too much liquid will leach off much of the flavor.

You can use a roux for thickening, but it really isn't necessary to do so because there's usually already enough fat in the cooking liquid. The easiest and best way to thicken gravy is to make a slurry of flour and water, mixing until it is smooth and free of lumps and adding water until it is of a good pouring consistency. If you have trouble getting rid of all the lumps, you can strain it. Bring the gravy liquid to a low boil and stream the slurry into it a little at a time until it's almost the thickness you want, but stop adding the slurry before it gets too thick. Continue cooking for a couple of minutes to finish thickening it. If it's not yet thick enough, add more of the slurry and repeat. For a darker color, you can add a little of a browning agent such as Bovril (which may be hard to find in the US) or Kitchen Bouquet.
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Old 02-23-2011, 10:11 AM   #4
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Sounds like you didn't do the roux right. Cook it over low-medium heat until it is a nice rich brown color. This will help to darken the gravy, and makes sure teh flour taste is cooked out of the roux.
Then mix it in slowly, as advised. I was always told that to thicken, it must boil.
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:04 AM   #5
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A little more on the subject of making roux. It is an art that any aspiring cook should master but, again, is entirely unnecessary for thickening most gravies. Why bother with such a time-consuming extra step?

One of the best explanations of the technique and use of roux in Cajun/Creole cuisine is found here: Creole/Cajun: Know Your Ingredients . Roux is also necessary for making many classic French "mother sauces".
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Old 02-23-2011, 11:15 AM   #6
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I had always used Gravy Master for browner gravy (Kitchen Bouquet tastes too vegetable-y for me), but *sigh* I haven't found it here in New Orleans. A lady worker turned me onto a brand that worked, but I'd never heard of it. If you can get the Gravy Master, keep some on hand. It works!
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:02 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zhizara View Post
I had always used Gravy Master for browner gravy (Kitchen Bouquet tastes too vegetable-y for me), but *sigh* I haven't found it here in New Orleans. A lady worker turned me onto a brand that worked, but I'd never heard of it. If you can get the Gravy Master, keep some on hand. It works!
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).
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Old 02-23-2011, 12:15 PM   #8
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I learned to make brown gravy with soy sauce...I thought all gravy tasted like soy sauce while I was growiing up. It was the only flavoring my Mother used!
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Old 02-23-2011, 01:31 PM   #9
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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.Jay
Are you sure she uses olive oil? Personally I have never used olive oil for a roux. The smoking point is much lower than vegi, canola or peanut. If it "burns", you will surely get a foul taste.

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Old 02-23-2011, 02:42 PM   #10
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I'm with Craig C - for gravy roux I use the drippins from the pan and corn starch. Gravy Master works well too for the dark brown color. I can't imagine olive oil because it has a specific taste and you don't want to overpower the meat flavor of your liquid. Butter and flour work well too for a roux if you want to start with something kind of bland then add stock to that. Browning beef is essential to getting the flavor in the gravy.
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