Thursday, 1 December 2011

Jamie Oliver's get-ahead gravy

We had our trial-run Christmas lunch yesterday. Except we did it a dinnertime. And I'll tell you this about Christmas: it is a fucking hassle. I can't quite believe I've got to do all that all over again in 3 weeks' time. And I was only on pudding, sauces, relishes and decorations - my husband had the real sweat on doing the turkey and all the rest.

But what are you going to do? It's just life, innit. Like I was complaning on and on and on to my single Hot Career friends J- and E- the other week about how I thought I'd be a wife and mother as a bit of a retro-laugh and now I'm right in it and marvelling what a hilarious joke I seem to have played on myself. I was expecting a tidalwave of sympathy, because I am a moaney old cow, but they both just looked at me blanky and boredly and said "Yeah, life is vile."

Since then I've tried to complain a bit less about everything.

Anyway look, for god's sake, if this isn't already in your repertoire, do Jamie Oliver's get-ahead gravy if you're lumbered with Christmas this year. It's a ruddy life-saver. Do it this weekend and freeze it.

This is not Jamie's exact recipe. The real thing is easily sourced on the internet.

Jamie Oliver's get-ahead gravy
Makes 1 litre, enough for about 8 people

8 chicken wings or wings or stock bones or whatever
2 carrots, quartered
1 small onions, quartered
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and, you guessed it: quartered
fresh sage leaves - about 5?
fresh rosemary - two sticks?
3 bay leaves
1 star anise IF YOU WANT. I, personally, didn't think the Chinesey flavour this imparted was very appropriate, although it's nice
4 rashers streaky bacon, snipped
4 tbs plain flour
1 tbs cranberry sauce
some olive oil

1 Tip everything except the flour and the cranberry sauce into a roasting tin, slosh some olive oil over it, salt and pepper, turn it all around to coat and put in a 180C oven for 1 hour

2 Take it out and bash everything up in the pan. Jamie recommends using a potato masher but I found stabbing everything with an assortment of wooden items, such as a spoon and then a rolling pin, was easier

although I took this photo at the masher stage

3 Put the pan on the hob on a low heat and sprinkle over the flour a spoonful at a time, mixing well in to the mixture after each snowfull

4 Now pour over two litres of water, just cold from the tap, mix together and boil briskly for ten minutes and then simmer for 25. It will reduce by roughly half

5 Strain the gravy. I found this easier to do once through a colander and then once again through a sieve - although this does create more washing up.

6 Now put in tupperware and forget about it until Christmas Eve. Don't bother skimming the fat now because there's something about the freezing/thawing process that draws out the fat from the gravy more effectively.

7 On the day, either just heat this up and finish off with some cranberry sauce and serve OR add the juices from the turkey roasting tin. You are supposed to add the turkey juices, but you will probaby be feeling utterly mental and a bit tearful by this stage and won't be arsed to be adding no damn juices to sauces. So I'm just telling you now that if you want to serve this gravy straight up without turkey juices no-one will notice.


  1. Oh go on! I love it when you complain. Isn't that the whole POINT?

  2. so bloody organised... i've had to sit down out of shock...

  3. Now I know why Abel and Cole were out of chicken wings this week! Brilliant idea, because it's the gravy that makes you want to shoot yourself when you're making a roast for lots of people. Xmas pudding can go in the microwave - we don't bother, because no-one here likes Xmas pudding, so I make Christmassy ice cream by putting mincemeat into bought ice-cream (you have to heat / cool the mincemeat first because of the suet). Off to Waitrose to see if I can find chicken wings there


  4. Am inspired. Will do it this very weekend. Also tempted to make and freeze bread sauce and part-roasted potatoes Which will leave me with virtually nothing to do on the day apart from lounging about opening small but perfectly wrapped parcels containing diamond earrings and the like. How WAS the turkey BTW? I will be attempting first Aga bird and am in somewhat of a sweat about it already.

  5. Nigel whatshisname (baby awake ALL night so words completely gone today) does a v nice and, thank god, easy, vegetarian "gravy" (marsala and onions) which I recommend to anyone who, like me, likes to make life even harder for christmas cooks. In fact I might even blog about it myself, if I can be arsed. Slater. that's it.

  6. can you freeze part-roasted potatoes? if so, why did I not think of that earlier, it's genius.
    I'm lucky in that Mr W does Christmas Dinner so I can sit around surrounded by tat the children have been given and open my own present of underwear that doesn't fit and hideous novelty mugs.

  7. Gravy is the one thing I detest making. Bringing all the other things to the table at the same time is bad enough without having to grow extra hands to whisk fricking gravy. And it never thickens. You may have just saved my Christmas. Thank you.

  8. Thank you,think I will make that this weekend. Am also going to do cranberry and bread sauces for the freezer. What are your thoughts on part roasted frozen spuds? Bit worried about doing them in case rubbish on the day but am away the week before and only get back on Xmas Eve.
    Always enjoy reading your blog, are you posting the rest of your Christmas recipes?

  9. No! You cannot freeze roasted brussels or part-roasted potatoes! Get a grip. You can make a lot of things and freeze ahead, but not everything for god's sake. I will be going through it all in the next few posts in good time for Christmas.

  10. I have learned from my ONE hosting of Xmas that it is far better to go round to the in laws and revel in not doing Crimbo at all. What gets me most irked is how all the Xmas delivery slots got booked already, they always do and who wants to go near a supermarket in that last manic week of chaos.
    I love to cook and can cook but don't feel I need to show my abilities on the most over hyped meal of the I awful for saying this?? I do contribute 60 odd mince pies.
    Good luck with the meal of a thousand parts :-)

  11. I find the easiest way to deal with said meal is to remain single at the age of 29, making it perfectly acceptable to spend Christmas on your mum's sofa eating matchmakers like bugs bunny eats carrots. I do contribute to the meal - this year I have made a christmas pudding and on Christmas Eve I'll do my usual vital job of wrapping the sausages in bacon, before being shooed out of the kitchen and retiring back to the sofa. Does look like good gravy though!

  12. I made this last year and it is great to get it out of the way well ahead of time. I couldn't get chicken wings so just used thighs which worked just as well - wings I expect are just a bit cheaper. Also with regards to your gravy not thickening to your liking - that's what cornflour was invented for!

    Loving your blogs Esther - and don't stop grumbling on here - it's the highlight of my week you make it so funny. x

  13. Now I am feeling like a terrible wife and mother because I was planning to rely on Bisto for my gravy! This is our first year hosting Christmas as well and I'm already getting in a bit of a fluster.

  14. Loving the post but also the Christmas decs. Just been online and ordered..

  15. Girl, you're a riot. And that picture of the blown-up chicken bits has me giggling, too.

  16. I would skip the Star Anise. Tastes like it doesn't belong.

  17. My third year of making this gravy, its in the oven at the moment and smells lush. Its so easy to make and freeze before christmas day.