Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Basic White (or Cream) Gravy

So here I go, off to blog A MONTH OF VEGAN GRAVIES. This should be fun, interesting and.... yes.... a challenge (for me anyway!!).
But, first, a disclaimer - Please understand, I AM ALL ABOUT COMFORT FOOD and plan to blog as such. There are no requirements that every vegan recipe also be 'health' food; it's all about balance - and we all need a little variety (and gravy) now and then!!
But no, this will NOT be a low-salt, low-fat, high-fiber, vegetable-and-vitamin-and antioxidant-filled month of recipes. If you're looking for those, there's a whole list of other vegan bloggers HERE.

That out of the way, I'm going to jump right in with my personal favorite here, and one that many places can't quite seem to get right.
Basic White gravy, also known as sawmill gravy, country gravy, milk gravy, and sausage gravy (if you add sausage - obviously).

This is the gravy most popular in the American South and typically used on top of those meaty favorites (all of which can be veganized easily) like biscuits and gravy, "SOS", Chicken fried steak, grits and gravy, or eggs and gravy. It's basically milk, fat and flour. Comfort food at it's best.
Let me just say a word to the many vegan restaurants out there: Good gravy can MAKE OR BREAK YOU! Learn to do it right!
Too much flour and your gravy will get thick and pasty. Too little fat and the flour will taste "raw" and the gravy will not thicken right. Not stirring CONSTANTLY will cause lumps, or cause it to scorch. Not adding a bit of salt with the milk before cooking will make it bland, the salt needs to "cook in" to the gravy.

White gravy has a very mild flavor which is enhanced by whatever you might add to it (like sausage) I promise it's not hard though. I'll post a slightly more involved recipe at a later date - one that uses cashews or almonds. Yum.

Quoting Wikipedia:
"White gravy is essentially a b├ęchamel sauce with the roux (thickener - more on that later) being made of meat drippings and flour (Don't freak out, of course I'm going to make this vegan!!)
Milk or cream is added (calm down) and thickened with the roux; once prepared, black pepper and bits of sausage or other meats are sometimes added."
So how in the world to make this stuff vegan? This one's easy!!

If you've never made gravy, or had bad luck in the gravy-making area before, read my "NOTES", hopefully, they may prove helpful.


  • 1 1/2 T. vegan margarine of your choice
  • 1/4 cup flour
(NOTE: I prefer white flour here, makes a whiter and smoother gravy, but use what you want)
  • 2 cups unsweetened rice milk or oat milk
(NOTE: any other UNSWEETENED AND PLAIN non-dairy milk are fine, though rice or oat milk seem to give the most accurate taste without any other flavors coming through. MAKE SURE you are using PLAIN AND UNSWEETENED plant milk. Anything else will give your gravy a sweet or possibly "vanilla" taste. Not Good!)
  • dash of salt, sage and black pepper
Place iron skillet on medium-high heat for about one minute to heat it up. Add margarine and melt to cover bottom of skillet. NOTE: Any skillet will work, I just tend to like my cast iron one for this. ALWAYS use a balloon-shaped wire whisk for gravies. There is no substitute here, and you need the whisk to mix the fat and flour particles into the milk evenly.
Whisk flour into the fat and cook over low heat for 1 minute.
NOTE: I do not brown the flour here (or make a roux), as it makes the gravy more brown or tan, I just stir it into the margarine, let it sizzle and bubble JUST a few seconds and then stir in milk.
Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk a little at a time. Add 1/8 tsp (pinch) of salt at this point.
Return to medium-high heat and stir occasionally while the gravy comes to a simmer (bubbles form and break, but not boiling violently) and thickens.
Stir continuously
working lumps to the side and bottom of the skillet until few or no lumps remain and gravy thickens. This stirring and thickening is important to cook the flour into the gravy, so the gravy doesn't taste like raw flour.
When it's thickened and simmered for a few minutes, turn off heat. Taste and add just a shake or two more of salt, rubbed sage (dry) and pepper to taste.
NOTE: The seasoning part is up to your individual preference. Usually I add a little more salt, but that's all.
At this point, you can serve the gravy as is; or think of it as a basic canvas to create a masterpiece - add cooked, crumbled "sausage" (any vegan variety of your choice will do) beans, mushrooms, or any cubed veggie or veggie-meat that you like, anything's good with gravy. We'll talk about some variations later on...

Pour over biscuits, toast, grits, breaded-fried seitan cutlets, nut burgers, savory waffles, or whatever....


celyn said...

Happy MoFo! I loooove country gravy and I can't wait to see what you come up with for the rest of the month.

T said...

Thanks for the lesson! Ive always been scared to tackle white gravy but you make it seem simple.

C said...

That looks amazing. Also, thanks for the clear directions.

Dianne said...

This is great! I need more gravy recipes in my life!

Erin said...

This gravy sounds fantastic! I would add about a ton of black pepper and call it a day.

Melomeals: Vegan for $3.33 a Day said...

Wow.. a month of vegan gravy! That is amazing and I can't wait to see what you come up with.

Anonymous said...

YUM! Add a little garlic and I think I will be in heaven... :-)


Matt (Our Veggie Kitchen) said...

I love your commentary here. I can tell it's going to be a great month.

Ty said...

A month of gravy? My kinda girl. I am watching you for sure. Thansk for the beautiful recipe. I am a southern girl if you will and that looks like pretty good gravy. Oh how I have missed it, but this veganized version looks great. I can't wait to try it.

Anonymous said...

I love your blog - my sister Gaelynn turned me on to it awhile ago. I'm so excited about your "gravy" theme this month: my post today is a nod that direction, with an easy vegan garlic cream sauce that was great with yam gnocchi last night.

I’m also planning to make your Tofu Schnitzel & Gingersnap Gravy and review it sometime this month. It sounds fabulous, and I appreciate the unique (to me) take on tofu prep.

Jessica said...

I'm happy to have comfort food and healthy food. Being from Tennessee, biscuits and gravy is a favorite that I've missed. I will have to give your method a try - you have very good tips and I'm happy to learn the reason behind why it should be done this way.

Amey said...

oh goodie, I will definitely give this a try sometime soon. I hadn't even ever heard of white gravy until I met my boyfriend... but he loves the stuff, and I'm sure he'd freak out if I made him some biscuits and gravy!

VeriityKae said...

This gravy is amazing!! Thank you for the recipe! I added a bit of garlic powder and stirred in some sauteed mushrooms and it was delicious. =]

Tara Clark said...

I have tried to make white gravy countless times since going vegan because I missed my grandmother's so much. I have always failed. But today I followed your recipe down to the last second with my laptop next to me and I succeeded! Thanks for a great recipe!

Tara Clark said...

Oh! And I added just a pinch of oregano instead of sage because I didn't have any and a tiny pinch of mild curry seasoning. It was great! This vegan southerner is happily eating half the batch right now and the other batch looks like its in danger.

Shayna Bailey said...

I needed a quick vegan gravy recipe and came across this site. I'm so glad I did because in less than 10 minutes I used your recipe to make the best vegan homestyle gravy! I only had unsweetened soy milk on hand but it still turned out delicious, thank you! I've added this recipe to our staple recipe list!