According to Paul Kelly just add flour, salt, a little red wine and don't forget a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang.
Great tips, Paul. But we've got a few of our own to add.
Getting on the gravy train
No Christmas roast is complete without a rich gravy to bring out the best in the bird and accompanying roast vegetables. We asked two British expats for their tips, chefs Ben Greeno from Sydney's The Paddington, and Michael Slade from Melbourne's Northern Git.
But honestly? Both think Australians are mad to even consider cooking up a roast in late December. Greeno will be in his backyard this Christmas eating cold ham and prawns, while Slade will be feasting on chicken and rice, tabbouleh and fattoush salad with his wife's Lebanese family.
That aside, if we're silly enough to turn on the oven in summer, they're willing to help make sure the pain is worth it.
Gravy is essentially made with a stock, roasting juices and the result is strained and thickened. But every chef or cook worth his or her salt has a few tricks (Paul Kelly-style "add flour, salt a little red wine and a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and an extra tang") to impart their own special something. The recipes below have left room for tinkering.
The Paddington's chicken gravy
Greeno oversees the revamped kitchen at Merivale's The Paddington on Oxford Street. The pub has become known for its spit-roasted chickens and gravy, partly thanks to a glowing review from Good Food's Terry Durack. Popular demand means Greeno's team cooks up about 100 chooks a day, and about 60 litres of gravy.
Greeno, who hails from Durham in England's north-east (where Christmas means being cold and eating turkey), says the secret to the Paddington's chicken gravy is to combine white and brown gravy. The gravy should taste like "thickened, roasted chicken juice". Can't imagine it? Then try this.
Make a white chicken stock
1. Place chicken carcasses into a large pot and just cover with water. Add diced onion, carrot and leek, plus thyme and garlic if you like.
2. Simmer gently for about three hours, then strain.
Make a brown chicken stock
3. Roast some chicken wings until they're a rich brown.
4. Transfer the wings to a large casserole or stock pot, cover with the white chicken stock and add some blackened onions (for colour), diced carrot and leek, and chopped garlic and thyme.
5. Simmer gently for about three hours (or more, depending on quantity)
6. Strain the stock and thicken with a mixture of 50g fat or butter, and 50g plain flour (see Michael Slade's method, below).
Tip: If you're not keen on simmering the stocks on the stovetop for hours, Greeno says you can put the stock in an ovenproof casserole dish and cook in a low oven overnight.
Michael Slade's "giblets an' all" turkey gravy
In Melbourne's Thornbury, Slade serves more versions of gravy "than you can poke a stick at" at his carnivore-friendly Northern Git. But for a roast turkey he says you can't go past the style of gravy his father made every Christmas in the west Yorkshire town of Halifax. Slade says the key to a rich flavour is to use "all the bits" of the turkey, including the giblets, so tracking down a supplier who can provide the whole bird (usually with the innards and neck tucked into a bag inside the turkey) is essential. Here's the Slade family gravy method, which also works for chicken.
1. Wrap your turkey (or chicken) in bacon and roast it in the oven. The bacon will keep the turkey moist, and enrich the pan juices for the gravy later.
2. While your turkey is roasting, place the turkey giblets (neck, heart, liver and gizzard) into a large stockpot along with one large chopped onion, 250ml white wine and about 750ml water. Simmer gently for at least two hours.
2. Once the turkey has cooked and has been set aside to rest, pour all of the juices from the roasting pan into the stock, scraping up all the bits that have stuck to the roasting dish.
3. Strain the stock.
4. Make up a beurre manie by rubbing together 50g plain flour and 50g softened butter.
5. Return the strained stock to the stove and simmer on a low heat, gradually thickening it by adding small portions of the beurre manie and whisking into the stock to ensure the flavour is dispersed and the mixture does not become lumpy.
Note: Salt from the bacon and turkey should be enough and no further seasoning is required.
Makes about 800ml gravy, enough for 8-10 people