GRAVIES. A few general observations are necessary on the subject of soups and gravies.
Note: These gravy recipes and notes were written down in 1887
When there is any fear of gravy meat being spoiled before it be wanted, it should be well seasoned, and lightly fried, in order to its keeping a day or two longer; but the gravy is best when the juices are fresh.
When soups or gravies are to be put by, let them be changed every day into fresh scalded pans. Whatever liquor has vegetables boiled in it, is apt to turn sour much sooner than the juices of meat, and gravy should never be kept in any kind of metal.
When fat remains on any soup, a tea-cupful of flour and water mixed quite smooth, and boiled in, will take it off.
If richness or greater consistence be required, a good lump of butter mixed with flour, and boiled in the soup or gravy, will impart either of these qualities.
Long boiling is necessary to obtain the full flavor; and gravies and soups are best made the day before they are wanted.
They are also much better when the meat is laid in the bottom of the pan, and stewed with herbs, roots, and
butter, than when water is put to the meat at first; and the gravy that is drawn from the meat, should almost be dried up before the water is added.
The sediment of gravies that have stood to be cold, should not be used in cooking.
When onions are strong, boil a turnip with them, if for sauce; and this will make them mild and pleasant.
If soups or gravies are too weak, do not cover them in boiling, that the watery particles may evaporate.
A clear jelly of cow heels is very useful to keep in the house, being a great improvement to soups and gravies.
Truffles and morels thicken soups and sauces, and give them a fine flavor. The way is to wash half an ounce of each carefully, then simmer them a few minutes in water, and add them with the liquor to boil in the sauce till quite tender.
As to the materials of which gravy is to be made, beef skirts will make as good as any other meat. Beef kidney, or milt, cut into small pieces, will answer the purpose very well; and so will the shank end of mutton that has been dressed, if much be wanted.
The shank bones of mutton, if well soaked and cleaned, are a great improvement to the richness of the gravy.
Tarragon gives the flavor of French cookery, and in high gravies it is a great improvement; but it should be added only a short time before serving.
To draw gravy that will keep for a week, cut some lean beef thin, put it into a frying pan without any butter, cover it up, and set it on the fire, taking care that it does not burn.
Keep it on the fire till all the gravy that comes out of the meat is absorbed, then add as much water as will cover the meat, and keep it stewing. Put in some herbs, onions, spice, and a piece of lean ham.
Let it simmer till it is quite rich, and keep it in a cool place; but do not remove the fat till the gravy is to be used.