Sunday, October 02, 2011

Creamy Vegan Country-style Gravy

Hold on to your saucepans. Heeeere we go. It's "Vegan Month of Food" (Vegan MoFo).
And in case you missed it, I'm blogging A MONTH OF VEGAN GRAVIES.

This should be fun!

Just the obligatory public service announcement reminder before we begin: "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 restaurants (both vegan and non-vegan) can't quite seem to get right:
Basic Cream Gravy or Country Gravy - also known as sawmill gravy, white gravy, milk gravy and sausage gravy (if you add sausage - obviously).

This is the gravy most popular in the American South and is 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.
Basically milk, fat and flour cooked into creamy deliciousness.
Comfort food at it's best.

So: Let me just say a word to the many vegan (and other) restaurants out there: Good gravy can MAKE OR BREAK YOU! Learn to do it right! (Yes, I remember gravy from the non-vegan olden days when I didn't care what ingredients it had exactly).
I'll be doing a few restaurant reviews later on; EVERY time I have the good fortune to go to a vegan restaurant, I ALWAYS order gravy. Sometimes I feel like I need to make an instruction sheet to leave with my check.
  • 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 properly.
  • Not stirring CONSTANTLY may cause lumps, or scorching.
  • Not adding a bit of salt with the "milk" before cooking will make it bland, the salt needs to "cook in" to the gravy.
Country 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 substitut
e 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.
That's it!!!!!
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...

And what do you do with it? You really need to ask? Drink it straight from the pan! (OK, my children really DO that, but I suggest putting it OVER other yummy foods!)

Try it over biscuits, toast, grits, breaded-fried seitan cutlets, nut burgers, savory waffles, lentil loaf, "chicken-fried-tofu" or whatever....

Happy Gravy-making!


omgoshimvegan said...

Wonderful! Can't wait for more gravies. I am so excited to make some. Will let you know how they turn out in my kitchen.

Andrea said...

After all your warnings I expected a LOT of fat and salt. This gravy sounds perfect — practically diet food, unless, of course, you eat the whole thing. :) Thanks for sharing.

Get Skinny, Go Vegan. said...

OMG. I will have to tell my hubby about your project He grew up with B & G and is totally vegan now. I'm not much for gravies and I am GF and NEVER really had B and G so not so much attachment! But he will DIG this!

Rachel said...

A month of gravy - wow. I'm looking forward to adding some new gravy recipes to my arsenal.

Jared said...

This sounds so good! I seldom make gravies just because the recipes are typically very involving and so rich/fattening, but this is extremely doable. And tonight I will scour my fridge and figure out what I can douse in gravy...

Vegan Triangle said...

I love your Mofo theme!

I use only unsweetened non-dairy milk for making gravy. Even with plain, I tend to get a sweet taste.

sallyomally said...

This goes nicely over rice. I love white gravy with a ton of black pepper. Very interesting about the salt. I never knew that.

Anonymous said...

I've been looking for a good country gravy recipe. I can't wait to try this one. Thank you for sharing your recipe!

bs said...

I'm not a vegan, but my girlfriend and I are trying to eat more healthy, plant-based foods. This gravy served over some biscuits with Trader Joe's meatless breakfast sausage was as good as any I've ever had in a restaurant. This is exactly how you convince people to eat healthy food -- show them how delicious it can be! Thank you!

Becca said...

THANK YOU FOR THIS RECIPE!! I've been vegan for a couple years and while I've attempted the roux base for gravy recipe thing, I didn't have the technique down. Your tips were superb. Now my biscuit and gravy itch has been scratched! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!