Consistently good gravy

There are two things that make a good gravy: a vegetable trivet, which is the layer of vegetables in the bottom of your roasting tray that your meat sits on; and the juices from a roasted piece of good-quality meat.

As long as you always use a vegetable trivet and buy good-quality meat, your gravy will taste like heaven whether you use water or stock. Follow my method for making gravy and you’ll never look back.

To make your gravy
• When you come to make your gravy, your chicken will be covered and resting and you’ll have your tray of chicken juices and vegetable trivet in front of you
• Using a spoon, carefully remove 90 per cent of the hot fat from the tray by angling it away from yourself and scooping off the fatty layer that settles on top
• Put the tray back on the hob over a high heat
• Add the flour, stir it around and, holding the tray steady with a tea towel in one hand, use a potato masher to mash all the veg to a pulp – don’t worry if it’s lumpy
• You can rip the wings off the chicken and break them up into the tray to add more flavour at this point
• When everything is mixed and mashed up, add the alcohol to give a little fragrance before you add your stock (the alcohol will cook away)
• Keep it over the heat and let it boil for a few minutes
• Pour the stock into the tray, or add 1 litre of hot water • Bring everything in the pan to the boil, scraping all the goodness from the bottom of the pan as you go
• Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, or until you’ve achieved the gravy consistency you’re looking for

To serve your gravy
• Get yourself a large jug, bowl or pan and put a coarse sieve over it
• Pour your gravy through the sieve, using a ladle to really push all the goodness through
• Discard any veg or meat left behind
• At this point you’ve got a really cracking gravy, and you can either serve it straight away or put it back on the heat to simmer and thicken up
• Depending on which meat I’m serving it with, I’ll add a teaspoonful of horseradish, mustard, redcurrant jelly, cranberry, mint or apple sauce – you certainly don’t have to, but I think the little edge of complementary flavour you get from doing this is brilliant