Gravy is a staple of holiday menus, but most gravy is made using wheat flour. With many people struggling with grains from various reasons, learning to make gluten-free gravy for Thanksgiving or other holidays is a good idea. It’s not a difficult thing if you know a few simple tricks.
Making your gravy without using grains of any kind will mean that your guests who have a gluten problem, such as Crohn’s or an allergy, and your guests who have problems with blood sugar, such as those with diabetes or metabolic syndrome, will both be able to safely have gravy without you having to make two different kinds. Gluten-free gravy is often made using rice flour, which makes it too high in sugars for diabetics. Or it’s made from something like buckwheat flour, which still has that problem and adds flavors not normally present in gravy. This recipe avoids both problems. The techniques used in this recipe also avoid the two main difficulties with making gravy: lumpiness and burnt or undercooked starch.
First, your gravy will only be as good as your ingredients. This sounds like it should be self-evident, but it’s not. Make sure every ingredient you use is the best quality you can afford. You should use the juices from the turkey, if you have access to them. If you’re not the person responsible for the bird, you probably don’t until right before the meal. If this is the case, the most flavorful option is to make your own chicken broth from a pastured chicken (save the meat for quick meals later), followed by making your own chicken broth from a conventionally-raised chicken. Or if you buy broth or stock, Trader Joe’s has turkey broth this year. There are also good gourmet brands of broth, but read labels to ensure that your purchased broth is gluten-free.
Milk has a high sugar content so that it may not be safe for those with blood sugar problems, particularly if they’re trying to reverse diabetes. But unsweetened nut milk like almond milk has been used in cooking in Europe for thousands of years and does not taste odd. In fact, it enhances the flavor, and has almost no carbohydrates of any kind. You can make it yourself, or several companies now make it. It’s carried in the natural/health food section of many groceries.
Other important factors are in the quality of your herbs and butter. Sage and thyme are the two most important herbs, and in most areas of the United States, they will still be growing in the garden around Thanksgiving. They will have a fresh, potent flavor if you pick them just before using. You could also use storebought fresh herbs. Dried should be your last choice.
And butter should be butter, not margarine, the best quality you can afford for this holiday meal. Kerry Gold, El Presidente, and Minerva Dairy butters are all excellent if you can get them.
All of the previous ingredients are important for any gravy, but there are two other things are important in making your gluten-free, low-carb gravy: the thickening agent and a whisk.
Guar or xanthan gum are readily available throughout the United States, either in health food stores, groceries, or through Internet or catalog order. Konjac flour is usually only available by order. None of them adds flavor to the gravy. Using any of these three as thickeners will make your gravy both gluten-free and low-carb, avoiding the problems of unusual flavors and raised sugar levels.
One final important technique in using these thickeners is how to prevent lumps. These thickeners work very quickly, and don’t even need to be heated as flour does. So using a salt shaker with smallish holes, and using a whisk as you shake the thickener into the broth and herbs, is essential. The salt shaker prevents the thickener from coming out in large clumps, and the whisk helps you break it up quickly so that the thickener can come in contact with all of the liquid fast.
Once you have all your ingredients in order, it’s time to cook.
Gluten-Free, Low Carb Gravy
A Blueprint Recipe–adjust to get the quantity and flavors you want
1-3 cups turkey stock: from bottom of roasting pan, or purchased. Supplement what’s in the pan to get what you want.
2 cups unsweetened almond milk and/or cream
1 teaspoon butter per cup of stock, if you didn’t put butter under the skin of the bird
1/2 teaspoon dried herbs (fresh-dried in your garden, if possible, by the weather): chiefly sage, some thyme and possibly rosemary)
salt and freshly-cracked black pepper
1/2 – 1 teaspoon guar or xantham gum, or Thick n’ Thin Not/Starch, in a saltshaker
Start by heating your broth, adding herbs in an herb bag. Allow it to steep for at least 10 minutes. Remove bag.
Melt the butter into the broth. Add a little heavy cream (otherwise you’re making a veloute, which, while tasty, is not what we’re after here) and/or unsweetened almond milk. If you’re making a big quantity, it’s less-expensive to use a little cream for flavor and mouthfeel, and a lot of almond milk.
Then begin shaking in the thickener, while you whisk as fast as you’re able, until the gravy is slightly thinner than the consistency you like it. Many people make the initial mistake of adding too much thickener, making the gravy a solid mass. These thickeners are around three to five times the potency of flour, so you’re not going to need nearly as much. It will also continue to thicken for a few minutes, so a good method is to shake/whisk some in; continue to keep it warm while you attend to another cooking chore; check it and add some more if needed.
Heat it up until it’s steaming. There’s no need to boil it. Then put it in your favorite container and serve.
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