Eat Your… Gravy

A Personal Announcement

After some time in development, my partner, Laura, and I just officially launched a website called Our Farm Adventure. We are documenting our progress towards building an earthen home, living off the grid, and starting an organic farm on my old family homestead in northeast Georgia. For the cooking fanatics, we will have information and personal experiences related to building and using solar cookers, cob ovens, and a wood stove (no propane or natural gas involved). Be sure to visit the site and add us to your RSS reader!

Holiday Favorites

This week begins a set of articles that I’m calling “Traditional and Vegan Holiday Favorites”. I know what you’re thinking — gravy? Is he serious? This isn’t even a complete dish!

Why Gravy?

Gravy is probably one of the most universal foods found on the family dinner table during the holiday season. It’s commonly used on mashed potatoes, biscuits, stuffing, and meats (veggie versions of course) — if you screw up, bad gravy can ruin an entire meal. And having no alternative to meat-based gravy can miff your vegetarian guests. Fortunately, there are plenty of options for vegan-friendly gravy.

Take a look at the recipes below to get a general idea of the ingredients and methods that go into making meat-free gravy. Most of all, experiment. This is only a primer to get you started. If you’ve never made gravy before then follow the recipe exactly until you get a feel for how it all comes together. Here’s a hint: don’t wait until Thanksgiving morning to give it your first shot.

I’m not going to give any serving suggestions here. It is purely personal preference what types of gravy you like to use in different situations. Each recipe below has a distinct flavor and consistency. Some people prefer brown gravy on their mashed potatoes, while I prefer white. It’s up to you.

Brown Gravy

Ingredients

6 Tbsp flour, browned
1-½ Tbsp vegetable oil
2 – 4 cups plain soymilk at room temperature
1 – 2 Tbsp soy sauce or Bragg’s aminos
1/8 – 1/4 tsp salt
1/8 – 1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 large onion, finely diced
dash of black or white pepper

Directions

1) Brown the flour on medium heat in a small saucepan (do NOT use a teflon pan). Add the vegetable oil and mix thoroughly with the flour. Stir in the soymilk a little at a time until fully incorporated and free of any lumps.

2) Turn the heat to medium-high and add the remaining ingredients: soy sauce, salt, garlic powder, diced onion, and pepper. Bring to a boil while stirring constantly, then reduce heat back to medium and cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. Serve immediately.

Note: To brown flour, simply add it to a dry pan and toss until it takes on a darker, toasted look and smell. This step is crucial to the final flavor of a brown gravy.

Wheat-Free “Good Gravy”

This is another brown gravy recipe, but this one is wheat-free for those with gluten allergies. It also contains less soymilk and no vegetables, giving it a smoother, more watery texture.

From the book The Vegetarian Meat and Potatoes Cookbook.

Ingredients

2 cups vegetable stock
2-½ Tbsp tamari sauce
1 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 tsp dried
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 Tbsp cornstarch, dissolved in 3 Tbsp water
1/4 cup plain soy milk

Directions

In a small saucepan, combine the stock, tamari, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, whisk in the cornstarch mixture, and boil, whisking, until the sauce thickens, about 1 minute. Slowly whisk in the milk; do not allow to boil. Taste to adjust the seasonings. Serve hot.

Makes 2-1/2 cups

Ben’s notes: For vegetable stock, I use a product called “Better Than Bouillon”. See this link on Amazon for more information. It is available in the following vegetarian formulations: Vegetable Base, Organic Vegetable Base, Mushroom Base, and No Chicken Base.

Ben’s White Gravy

I admit, I like my gravy rich, chunky with onions, and full of fat. Hey, I never claimed it would be healthy. Yum.

Ingredients

1/2 medium onion, diced
1 clove garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
2-3 Tbsp vegan margarine (Earth Balance)

3 Tbsp unbleached all-purpose flour
1-½ to 2 cups plain soymilk (not low fat) at room temperature.
Fresh ground pepper and salt to taste

Directions

Add onion, garlic, and vegetable oil to a small saucepan set to medium heat. Stir and cook until onions and garlic start to brown on the edges. Add vegan margarine and combine quickly until melted, then add flour and stir well until incorporated. Whisk in 1 cup of the soymilk and make sure to remove any lumps. Wait until mixture is bubbly then add any remaining soymilk until it is the consistency that you want. Turn heat to low, add salt and pepper to taste, and cook for 2 more minutes. Serve hot.

Notes: If you want to make this gravy even richer, add about 1 Tbsp of nutritional yeast flakes in the final step.

Your Gravy?

If you have a favorite recipe for vegetarian gravy, let’s hear it in the comments!

See you next week!

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Now Playing: Disintegration by The Cure.


Ben is a graduate student at NCSU studying Crop Science with an emphasis on Sustainable Agriculture. Official foodie credentials are non-existent, other than the fact that he has been cooking for himself since he was 12 years old. You can find his personal blog at bengarland.com, photos and videos at bengarland’s Flickr photostream, and his plans for a self-constructed earthen home and organic farm over at Our Farm Adventure.