How to make gravy in advance
A good gravy can really lift the meal, upgrading your festive feast from mere glorified roast to something really special. However, like anything that requires thickening, gravy can be a fickle beast and with so much going on during the cooking of the Christmas meal it's all too easy to let it slip. Preparing your Christmas gravy in advance can help to take a lot of the pressure off when you’re cooking the rest of your meal.
Gravy gets its lovely flavour from the cooking juices in meat, so for the best possible gravy you should get roasting before you make it. Chicken legs are a cheap way to do this, and if you like you can pick the meat off before making the gravy to use in a soup, curry or pie.
Make it up to two days in advance or, if you're feeling super organised, prepare a month in advance and freeze until the big day. On Christmas Day, reheat the gravy over a gentle heat and add more juices from the turkey roasting pan for an extra hit of flavour.
Make-ahead Christmas gravy
- Arrange 1 pack of chicken legs in a deep roasting tray along with 2 roughly chopped onions and carrots, a crushed bulb of garlic and a handful of fresh thyme. Roast in the oven at 200ºC/180ºC fan/gas mark 6 for 45 minutes.
- Once the legs are cooked, remove half the legs from the pan and pick the meat for another recipe, if you like. Return the bones to the tray along with the remaining chicken legs and place the roasting tray on the hob over a medium heat, then pour in a glass of red wine or Port (or use stock if you prefer). Mix together with a wooden spoon, mashing the meat to squeeze the juice out as you go, then add a tablespoon of flour and stir well.
- Gradually pour in hot chicken stock – how much you need depends on how many you're cooking for, but aim for 1.5–2 litres. Keep stirring until the mixture begins to thicken.
- Set a sieve over a large pan and carefully strain the gravy, discarding the bones, vegetables and herbs. Simmer for 20 minutes, seasoning to taste. Leave to cool then keep in the fridge in an airtight container until required.
Upgrade your gravy: add meat juices from the cooked turkey on Christmas Day for a fuller flavour. You could also stir through a spoonful of cranberry sauce as a lovely contrast to the richness of the gravy.
Make the most of every drop: don't throw away any leftover gravy on Christmas Day. Add it to your pie filling or even stir it through a turkey soup to make particularly delicious Boxing Day spread.