It’s the liquid gold that cascades across every other item on the Christmas plate and gives our food the unidentifiable yet extremely satisfying sweet and savoury flavour we all love. Gravy is an essential part of Christmas lunch but can often be a last minute rush to get the flavour and consistency just right.
When you consider gravy is essentially a thicken stock with roasted meat juices this is something we can break down and make the majority of before December 25th. In this recipe I show how to make a roasted chicken stock where the wine has already been reduced to save time, and the volume has been increased a little good quality chicken stock. The whole thing is then chilled and frozen until the big day when it’s defrosted, reheated and boosted with the juices from the roasting tray and a little extra liquor from a vegetable pan.
If your family prefers goose or duck the process is the same but if you have beef on Christmas Day you may want to roast beef bones and rosemary or thyme with the vegetables instead. Similarly while I prefer to reduce down a red wine in my gravy if you prefer a lighter gravy for your table then simply switch out the red wine in the recipe for white.
This recipe is about taking some of the work from Christmas Day when time is really scarce and putting it into the weeks before when things are a little less hectic, and again we share the cooking load between the kitchen and the BBQ.
- 4 carrots, washed and roughly chopped
- 4 celery sticks, washed and roughly chopped
- 3 onions, topped and tailed and roughly chopped (leave the skins on)
- 1kg chicken wings, scored
- 1/2 pkt fresh sage
- 1/2 bottle of red wine
- 3 tbsp plain flour
- 1L chicken stock
- Preheat your BBQ for 180-200c (350-400f) roasting / indirect heat with the lid on, vents open as applicable.
- Line a roasting tin with parchment and add the carrots, celery, onion, chicken wings and sage and 100ml hot water from the kettle.
- Place the tray on the BBQ in the area of roasting / indirect heat and replace the lid.
- Roast for 1 hour or until the wings are beautifully caramelised and the vegetables are roasted and slightly softened.
- Switch the BBQ to grilling / direct heat and add the wine. Bring to the boil and bubble to reduce the wine by half. Keep an eye on the tray so the wine doesn’t reduce too quickly and burn on the bottom.
- Sprinkle over the plain flour and stir through until incorporated. Add the stock and return to the boil.
- Once the tray is nicely bubbling away take the tray off the heat before using a vegetable masher to mash everything in the tray.
- The wings will break apart and the vegetables will turn to mash and this is perfect for the next step.
- Place a mental sieve over a saucepan and spoon some of the mixture in before using the back of the spoon to push as much liquid and vegetable pulp sweetness through into the pan below. When the contents of the sieve have reduced and dried out scrape out and discard before adding more of the mixture to the sieve. Repeat until all of the roasting tray goodness has been passed through the sieved and the dried remnants have been discarded. Leave the liquid to cool before transferring to a seal-able container, label and put in the freezer until Christmas Eve.
- On the 24th pop the gravy into the fridge and allow to defrost overnight.
On Christmas Day all that’s required is to transfer the gravy to a saucepan and return to the heat. Once the turkey or other meat has rested skim the fats from the roasting tray juices and add these juices to the gravy. If there isn’t enough gravy simply add boiling water from the kettle or some of the water from the carrots. A teaspoon of cornflour can be mixed with a little water to make a smooth paste before being added to the gravy and bubbling for 2-3 minutes to thicken if necessary.