A good gravy can be simply delicious, whether it be part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal, a breakfast treat over biscuits or an important part of a ten-napkin debris-style roast beef po-boy. However, it's very easy to mess up a gravy, resulting in lumps of flour. Also, gravies are not known for their nutritional value, falling into that category of "eat rarely - if you must."
In this Instructable, I will show how to make your gravy come out very smooth and how to sneak in a bit of nutrition, while you're at it.
Step 1: Gravy - Preventing the lumps
This isn't a recipe; you'll need to have a gravy recipe that you want to make to try this with.
There are a few things to bear in mind when cooking a gravy, however, that pretty much always applies.
1) If your recipe calls for browning the flour (such as for a brown gravy), the best two tools to use are patience and vigilance. You will need to keep stirring / folding the flour around as the temperature slowly rises. Flour doesn't brown until it gets to a certain point, but when it does, the browning process is rapid. You will need to watch it carefully, and just keep moving the flour so that all of the flour gets the same amount of time on the bottom of the pan and, hence, all of the flour heats up at the same time. Once the gravy starts browning, this process becomes even more urgent; you want to keep folding the lighter flour down to the bottom of the pan, so that the flour all browns to the same color.
2) For avoiding the creation of unwanted lumps, the most crucial point in the gravy making process is when you add water. When water comes into contact with flour, it creates a sort of paste which is fairly water-proof. If a "ball" of flour gets wet on the outside, the dry flour contained inside this ball of wet flour won't get wet and will remain as an unwelcome surprise when someone goes to take a bite of your gravy. Yech! To avoid these balls of dry flour, add your water slowly, mixing the water in with the flour before adding more water. Also, don't pour the water on top of the flour. Instead, if possible, clear an area so that you can pour the water so that it touches the pan, rather than the flour, then concentrate your mixing at the area where the flour meets the water.