This Get Ahead Gravy recipe is perfect to make a good quantity of gravy without last minute stress. Any roast meat juices can be added to finish it off so it’s ideal for turkey gravy at Christmas or Thanksgiving, any Sunday lunch or even bangers and mash!
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You may already be familiar with the concept of make ahead gravy. Jamie Oliver has been plying his version for many years now. He’s even instigated Get Ahead Gravy Day on 12th December. Which sounds like a great idea. I even made his gravy recipe many years ago. But I’ll be honest. Whilst I love the concept, *whisper it*, I didn’t love the recipe. Sorry Jamie.
The recipe involves mashing all of the veg etc into the gravy before straining it and to me it tasted like meaty vegetable soup rather than the tasty luscious meaty gravy that I’m looking for. I’m also religiously opposed to star anise in anything and not a fan of herbs in gravy.
I think gravy should be a tasty moist-maker that bring together the flavours of the meal without masking everything else on the plate.
So why is this the best Make Ahead Gravy?
So I created my own version. Its boozy, creamy and starts off the same way with getting some chicken wings nice and roasty toasty.
We then make a tasty stock from that chicken and veg then thicken it up to a gravy. By using cornflour rather than wheat flour, the whole thing is naturally gluten free. Which makes one less special dish to make if you’re catering for allergies.
At this point the gravy can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days of the freezer for weeks or even a couple of months. If you’re not planning on make it for a big occasion (lets face it, I’m clearly talking about Christmas, or maybe Easter Sunday), you can freeze in smaller portions. They’re ideal to whip out for any everyday roast dinner or even sausage and mash.
When serving the gravy, it gets thawed and reheated with any meat juices added. Despite the base of the gravy being chicken, its suitable for making a beef or lamb gravy as well as for with Roast Chicken or turkey. Or maybe even something more obscure like roast goose!
How to Serve Gravy
Piping hot and ideally in a jug so that everyone can serve themselves. It turns out that people can be a bit funny about which bits of their roast dinner gravy gets poured on.
Personally I’m in the “pour it over everything and bring me a spoon” camp. (And yes I do like to eat my roast dinners in a shallow bowl). But I’m informed that some people like to keep their roasties etc on the dry side. There is nowt as queer as folk and so I find it much easier to let people pour their own.
I’d like to take a moment to talk about quantity here too. Once of the reasons for making a great get ahead gravy is to ensure that there is plenty to go round. Realistically you cannot make sufficient gravy by just thickening the juices of a chicken or turkey. It needs extra help in the volume department so this is a great way to do that in advance.
The reason I mentioned this is because there is nothing worse than being that guest who has to keep asking for more gravy. Or having to keep underpouring the gravy because there isn’t much in the jug and you don’t want to look greedy. Ensuring abundance is the greatest thing you can do as a host or cook. So please please do not skimp!
Make Get Ahead Gravy into a Feast
I truly believe that you can make any dish into a proper feast! Whether thats a feast for one after work on a Tuesday, a casual feast for four on a Friday evening or a feast for 12 for a special occasion!
Gravy is an absolutely essential as part of a Christmas Dinner Feast. Along with your perfectly brined Roast Turkey (or Roast Chicken if you are keeping things smaller), you can mix and match any of the following recipes (and more!)
- Pigs in Blankets (Bacon Wrapped Sausages)
- Sage & Onion Sausagemeat Stuffing or Homemade Paxo Stuffing
- The Best Roast Parsnips
- Roast Potatoes
- Homemade Bread Sauce
- Roast Sweet Potatoes
- Vichy Carrots with Thyme
- Proper Yorkshire Puddings
Don’t miss my comprehensive collection of ideas for classic Christmas sides. I’ve included simple basic recipes and ways to level up each dish.
There is everything from roast potatoes, numerous stuffing ideas and red cabbage dishes to cranberry sauces and even a vegan gravy option.
Don’t forget to head over to my Feast Collection pages to find all of my tips and tricks to help you host a fun and stress-free feast. Plus remember to check out my recipe index to create your own awesome Feast!
Ingredients for Make Ahead Gravy
The reason I’m using chicken wings is because they have a good proportion of bone which provides masses of flavour to a stock. You could alternatively use drumsticks, whole legs or thighs. Drumsticks are probably the most thrifty of the alternative options.
They are also cheap. Realistically you are unlikely to want to eat the meat by the time you’re done with it as it has no flavour at that point. If you have cats, they’ll probably appreciate it still. Mine certainly did.
I am a huge fan of cooking with sherry. Nothing fancy mind, just the cheap sweet or dry stuff from the supermarket is just fine. It adds a depth and sweetness that is hard to replicate.
You could alternatively use white port, madeira, marsala or any other white fortified wine. I would avoid using a port or other red fortified wine unless you are specifically intending the gravy to be served with a darker meat like beef or lamb. Sake or shaoxing rice wine are also good alternatives with a similar flavour profile.
If you would rather not use alcohol simply replace it wit water. You could add a small dash of balsamic vinegar but it isn’t necessary.
I use crème fraiche as the creamy ingredient in many of my dishes simply because it adds a little extra tang. And I always have some in the fridge. Using cream is a fine alternative. It doesn’t really matter whether it is single or double, light, heavy or whipping. I would avoid sour cream as it will be too tangy.
You can leave the creamy element out entirely but I find that it helps to round out the flavour and cut through the fat in the recipe.
I am talking about the roasting juices from pretty much any joint of meat. I usually specify draining off said juices at pertinent points during the cooking process. This is so that the meat roasts and doesn’t start to boil in it’s own juices.
As the juices sit, they will start to separate into the juices themselves and the fat. The fat will form a layer on top. It will depend on the meat and fatiness of the joint that you are roasting whether you skin all/none/some of the fat off before adding it to the gravy.
I usually add all of the juice and fat from a chicken. For lamb I skim it all off as I find lamb fat to be unpleasant in gravy. For pork, turkey and beef it will depend on the joint and amount of fat added during the cooking process. Mostly I’ll add some but not all of the fat,
This is largely a personal preference. But do remember that fat is flavour and don’t just throw it all away because Rosemary Connelly scared you off the good stuff in the 80s.
I’ve specified quantities in the recipe but when I’m just making get ahead gravy, I just throw in what I have. This is especially true of things like carrots and onions. It doesn’t matter how many wings you use although I’d use more rather than less than I’ve stated.
Sherry tends to be a glug rather than a measure and I eyeball the water. So if you’re a more experienced cook you can probably use my quantities as a guide more than anything. If you are not yet a gravy master or more underconfident, stick with the rough quantities the first time.
If you don’t want to go through the first stages of the recipe and make your own stock, you can use ready made stock. Simply start the recipe at step 2 in the section headed “Make The Thickened Gravy”. Try to get a good quality chicken stock. A “bone broth” type would be ideal as it will be richer.
You could also start with a stock cube or stock concentrate.
Make it Vegetarian or Vegan
I could tell you to simply omit the meat to make a veggie gravy. But it’s not going to be good so please don’t.
You would be much better off making a specifically vegetarian or Vegan Gravy like this one from Cook Veggielicious. An onion based sauce would also make a good alternative like this Onion Sauce from Farmersgirl Kitchen
Make it Allergy Friendly
This recipe is free from egg, gluten and nuts.
Dairy Free: You can easily replace the crème fraiche in this recipe with a plant based or dairy free cream. Or simply leave it out. There are no other substitutions needed.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
Equipment Notes for In Advance Gravy
There does seem to be a fair amount of pans involved in this recipe but there is nothing specialist. You start with a standard roasting tray, move onto a decent sized saucepan or stockpot and end up with a smaller saucepan.
A comprehensive list of the equipment used to make this recipe is included in the main recipe card below. Click on any item to see an example. There are no hard and fast rules so many items can be sensibly substituted to achieve the same results.
Leftover gravy can be kept in the fridge for a couple of days or frozen. If freezing I do recommend freezing it in smaller portions. Either way it can easily be reheated. It will look really ugly at first but keep whisking and it will come together as it heats up.
As for actual uses, I love to add gravy to my leftover roast dinner sandwiches. I don’t go full Geller moist maker but I do like to be generous and make a super messy sandwich. (If you don’t know the reference then apologies – you need to go watch Friends immediately).
I also use leftover gravy as a base for soup. I add more stock and whatever other leftovers I have. If I’m feeling a bit extra, I might even make dumplings with leftover Stuffing like I explain in that recipe post. And I might even make a fresh batch of Yorkshire Puddings in place of bread for dunking.
Get Ahead Gravy Tips
There are many factors that will affect the consistency of the gravy. If you are not happy with the consistency, you can add more water to make it thinner. Or whisk in more cornflour mixed with water to make it thicker.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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Get Ahead Gravy From Scratch
- 200 g Onions
- 200 g Carrots
- 500 g Chicken Wings
- 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 100 ml Sherry
- 1.7 litre Water
- 1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes
- 6 tbsp Cornflour (Cornstarch)
- Meat Juices - if using
- 100 ml Creme Fraiche
Create Deep Flavour
- Put the oven on to 220c fan | 425f
- Cut roughly 100g Onion into quarters. You don’t need to peel if the onions are fresh. Do the same with roughly 100g Carrot.
- Place them into a roasting tray along with roughly 500g Chicken Wings and 1 tbsp Vegetable Oil.
- Roast for 45 minutes until toasty and brown. Boil the kettle towards the end of the cooking time.
- Pour 50ml Sherry and 250ml Boiling Water over the cooked wings. Use a spatula to scrape all the crispy bits from the bottom of the pan.
Make the Stock
- Transfer everything to a large saucepan along with another 100g Onion, 100g Carrot and 1 tbsp Sea Salt Flakes. You can add any other veg peelings etc here to boost the flavour if you have them. Cover with 1 litre Boiling Water, turn up the heat and bring to the boil.
- Once boiling, bring the heat down to a simmer and leave for roughly one hour with the lid on.
Make the Thickened Gravy
- Strain the stock and return the stock to a pan along with 500ml Water. You can switch to a smaller pan at this point if you prefer.
- Bring the stock back to a gentle boil and add a further 50ml Sherry. Meanwhile mix 6 tbsp Cornflour with enough cold water to make a thin paste.
- Whisk the cornflour into the stock a little at a time. Stop once the gravy coats the back of a spoon.
- Whisk until fully combined and then add in 100ml Crème Fraiche.
- At this stage the gravy can be cooled and frozen or chilled until the time it will be finished and served.
Finish the Gravy & Serve
- When ready to serve, pour the gelatinous gravy into a pan and whisk whilst gently heating until it returns to its original texture.
- Whisk in any meat juices from what you are serving it with. You can include or exclude the fat element depending on your preference. I would include all the juices from a chicken but I would generally skim off the fat from turkey juices just because there is much more of it.
- Thoroughly check and adjust the seasoning at this point. How much extra salt you need to add will depend on the saltiness of the added juices.
- Serve piping hot.