real gravy no bisto recipe
real gravy no bisto recipe

Real gravy – no Bisto


July 12, 2012

I used to use Bisto as a gravy browner and thickener in my gravy until I found out how easy it was to make proper gravy. The difference in flavour is amazing and there is something incredibly satisfying about making proper gravy rather than using Bisto. You are also in control of what is in your gravy and can experiment with different combinations and flavours. The process takes a little bit longer but only the time that the meat is resting and, believe me, it's definitely worth it.

This proper gravy recipe works for any roast meat including pork, beef, lamb, chicken and turkey. Whilst you should tweak some of the ingredients to match the meat, the basic process is the same. For example, you can vary the herbs - sage works really well with pork, thyme with chicken, rosemary with beef and so on. Adding mustard works well with pork and beef. My advice is that almost anything goes and you should experiment different variations.

Get the kids involved in choosing what goes in, this is fun for them and is also a great lesson in what works well. You'll be amazed how quickly they get the hang of it and also some of their suggestions - both good and different.

If you make too much gravy, which is advisable, you can store it in the fridge for a couple of day or freeze it and use it with other meals. Chicken or pork gravy works really well with toad in the hole, lamb gravy works well in a shepherd's pie and any gravy could be used as a sauce in pie.

The fun starts when the meat has finished cooking and you've left it to rest, however the preparation starts before the meat has even gone in the oven.

  • Prep: 10 mins
  • Cook: 15 mins
  • 10 mins

    15 mins

    25 mins

  • Yields: At least 5


1 or 2 onions - quartered

At least a pint of good stock - depending on roast meat

1-2 tbsp plain flour (depending on volume of gravy and desired thickness)


2 carrots - sliced in half and cut into thumb sized pieces - optional

2 sticks of celery cut into thumb sized pieces - optional

2 garlic cloves, in skins, crushed with the back of a knife

2 tomatoes - quartered

Selection of herbs - again depending on meat - see recipe

Small glass of wine - red for beef or lamb, white with pork or chicken

1 tsp of mustard - or more to taste - this can be any type including powdered


Before putting the meat in the oven, place vegetables and herbs in the roasting tray and rest the meat on top of it. This has a number of effects including helping add flavour to the meat and protecting it from the direct heat from the bottom of the roasting pan. The most important factor for the gravy though is that the vegetables will brown whilst the meal is cooking and this is what helps make the gravy brown without the need for Bisto or gravy browning. Onions are by far the best for this so whilst you can vary the other veg, I always use onions.

When the meat is cooked, take it out of the roasting tray to rest leaving the vegetables and herbs in the tray. If there is fat in the bottom of the pan, remove all but a tablespoon or so. If you are cooking our roast chicken recipe, take the vegetables out of the inside of the bird and add these to the tray too.

Put the tray on the hob over a medium to high heat and soon the vegetables will start to sizzle. This will add to the flavour and help browning. Stir the vegetable around and scrape off any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan - more flavour!

Add the tomatoes if you are using them and fry these off too. Tomatoes add a great flavour and also help thicken the gravy.

When the vegetables are browned, add the flour (and mustard if using powdered) and stir in well, cooking for 2 minutes or so.

Pour in the wine if you are using or ladle or pour in a little of the hot stock. You can also add the mustard at this point.

Stir well until the liquid has been absorbed and then add all of the stock. Don't worry about lumps, these will breakdown and any remaining will go through the sieve.

Bring it back to the boil, stirring often (preventing lumps) until the gravy has reached your desired consistency. If you run out of stock, don't worry, some boiling water will be fine. You can also add juices as they run from the meat as it rests.

One excellent tip is to get a potato masher and use it to crush all of the vegetable in the pan. Not only does this make sure you get every last bit of flavour from them, it also really helps thicken the gravy.

When ready, pour the contents of the tray into a sieve squeezing the vegetables with the back of a spoon to get all of the juice and flavour from them. Collect the gravy in a saucepan or bowl/jug the and into either a saucepan or warmed bowl/jug scraping the underside of the sieve to get every last drop of gravy goodness.


As well as suggesting what goes into the gravy, our 7 and 9 year olds all help making gravy. They can carefully stir the pan wearing oven gloves, ladle the stock in and their favourite part is squeezing the mixture through the sieve.



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