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White gravy? Brown gravy?


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I have been pondering the brown gravy/white gravy divide, and am wondering what the regional variations are, and geographically where the split is.

For example-- I come from SE Michigan. I never heard of white gravy growing up. Gravy was meat juice (beef or chicken most commonly) sometimes thickened with flour, sometimes with corn starch. Gravy was used to cover meat, mashed potatoes, and occasionally stuffing, but not much else. Being near Canada, I was aware that they put gravy on french fries over the border (and mighty tasty it is).

I moved to southern Indiana for graduate school. Gravy was a mix-- sometimes brown gravy, and occasionally a place would offer white gravy-- usually made with sausage, flour, and milk. I never tried it.

After graduate school, I got a job in Oklahoma. It's white gravy all the way here, except possibly on Thanksgiving. Gravy goes on chicken-fried steak (but not other meats dishes normally), mashed potatoes, or biscuits for breakfast. I have made peace with this strange-looking stuff (as I have with chicken-fried steak) and now find it quite palatable, if a bit heavy.

Where is the divide between white and brown gravy? What are the gravy patterns out in Western U.S. or Canada? What do people put gravy on?

I am specificallly avoiding a discussion of tomato sauce/gravy, and other types of sauce. I am also avoiding the giblet/non giblet Thanksgiving gravy debate :smile:. I just want to know about white and brown gravy.

What do you use? On what type of food? And where are you?

-Rinsewind

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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Also can red- eye please be discussed?

Hadn't thought about that. Sure!

-Rinsewind

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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I grew up in Iowa, and most of our homemade gravy was a hybrid between the two types that you have defined. My mother would make gravy from the drippings, most commonly from either fried chicken or fried pork chops. She always added flour and milk. I believe that the milk was primarily used to increase the volume of the gravy. Mom just called it "pan gravy". Straight white gravy, made with only milk and flour, was strictly for sausage gravy over biscuits (breakfast), or for chipped beef gravy over potatoes and bread (for dinner). Just this past weekend, I made pan gravy under the watchful eyes of both my mother and my aunt. I'm proud to report that I passed the test with flying colors.

Brown gravy was never homemade. Mom used packets of Frenchs gravy mix. It was served with roasts and with turkey (especially at the holidays), over mashed potatoes, stuffing, and slices of meat. Gravies/sauces thickened with cornstarch were strictly reserved for my parents' forays into Asian cuisine via the "Better Homes and Gardens Oriental Cook Book".

I now live on an acreage in eastern South Dakota. It seems that my neighbors mostly make white gravy. However, one neighbor recently revealed that she made her family's favorite hamburger-noodle dish with brown, instead of white, gravy. Apparently, her husband and children now prefer the dish made the new way. Perhaps a revolution is coming.

April

One cantaloupe is ripe and lush/Another's green, another's mush/I'd buy a lot more cantaloupe/ If I possessed a fluoroscope. Ogden Nash

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In my house brown gravy is made with roast beef, pork, or lamb drippings and pan juice. White gravy is made with the fat left in the pan after frying pork chops, fried chicken, or chicken fried steak.

Both go on potatoes. I like brown gravy on my roast beef. White gravy on chops or chicken fried steak but not on fried chicken because fried chicken is finger food.

Haven't made Red-eye Gravy in many many years because my first spouse didn't want any part of it and I just never tried making it again. He called it "grease gravy".

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All our gravy is homemade.  I prefer milk (white) gravy on chicken fried steak and brown (water) gravy on everything else.  Red eye is for biscuits.

Water gravy? Do you add water to the pan juices? Or are you referring to some other technique?

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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I'm here in Arkansas and for us, white gravy is homemade, usually called country gravy or black pepper gravy. We eat it on chicken fried steak and chicken fried chicken and with crumbled (beef) sausage for biscuits and gravy. As for chipped beef, I've never had it, but hubby has and he loves it. Of course, it's also served on mashed potatoes.

Brown gravy is homemade too with pot roast or beef drippings, served on any type of beef dish or mashed potatoes.

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Here in south-central Kansas, we're enough in the middle that we eat EVERY kind of gravy. White gravy for sausage gray & biscuits, chipped beef gravy, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, chicken fried chicken, brown gravy for roast and potatoes, roast beef hash, salisbury steak, regular steak, etc.

I mostly thicken my meat gravies with cornstarch (looks nicer, sets up quicker). I try to avoid the powdered stuff unless I simply don't have the stock/juices to make gravy from scratch, or I'm in a tremendous hurry to eat gravy. (Such a thing has been known to happen!)

My white gravy (for biscuits and gravy) - I just sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour over the mostly-drained sausage, stir it around to "roux it up", pour in the milk slowly, and season it. If I'm making "plain white", I just make a roux of equal parts cooking fat and flour, brown it just a touch, and pour in the milk and season. If I'm feeling it, I'll even saute some minced onion in the fat before adding the flour. Seasoning salt/pepper/shot of cayenne sauce.

Don't think I've ever tried red-eye gravy, but from what I've heard, it's mostly too salty for my tastes.

But I'm always looking for a reason to add gravy to the menu. Did you know that ANY kind of gravy goes good on French fries?

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

“A favorite dish in Kansas is creamed corn on a stick.”

-Jeff Harms, actor, comedian.

>Enjoying every bite, because I don't know any better...

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Here in south-central Kansas, we're enough in the middle that we eat EVERY kind of gravy. White gravy for sausage gray & biscuits, chipped beef gravy, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, chicken fried chicken, brown gravy for roast and potatoes, roast beef hash, salisbury steak, regular steak, etc.

I mostly thicken my meat gravies with cornstarch (looks nicer, sets up quicker). I try to avoid the powdered stuff unless I simply don't have the stock/juices to make gravy from scratch, or I'm in a tremendous hurry to eat gravy. (Such a thing has been known to happen!)

My white gravy (for biscuits and gravy) - I just sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour over the mostly-drained sausage, stir it around to "roux it up", pour in the milk slowly, and season it. If I'm making "plain white", I just make a roux of equal parts cooking fat and flour, brown it just a touch, and pour in the milk and season. If I'm feeling it, I'll even saute some minced onion in the fat before adding the flour. Seasoning salt/pepper/shot of cayenne sauce.

Don't think I've ever tried red-eye gravy, but from what I've heard, it's mostly too salty for my tastes.

But I'm always looking for a reason to add gravy to the menu. Did you know that ANY kind of gravy goes good on French fries?

You sound a lot like my eldest. She says gravy is a beverage. :biggrin:

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Here in south-central Kansas, we're enough in the middle that we eat EVERY kind of gravy. White gravy for sausage gray & biscuits, chipped beef gravy, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, chicken fried chicken, brown gravy for roast and potatoes, roast beef hash, salisbury steak, regular steak, etc.

I mostly thicken my meat gravies with cornstarch (looks nicer, sets up quicker). I try to avoid the powdered stuff unless I simply don't have the stock/juices to make gravy from scratch, or I'm in a tremendous hurry to eat gravy. (Such a thing has been known to happen!)

My white gravy (for biscuits and gravy) - I just sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour over the mostly-drained sausage, stir it around to "roux it up", pour in the milk slowly, and season it. If I'm making "plain white", I just make a roux of equal parts cooking fat and flour, brown it just a touch, and pour in the milk and season. If I'm feeling it, I'll even saute some minced onion in the fat before adding the flour. Seasoning salt/pepper/shot of cayenne sauce.

Don't think I've ever tried red-eye gravy, but from what I've heard, it's mostly too salty for my tastes.

But I'm always looking for a reason to add gravy to the menu. Did you know that ANY kind of gravy goes good on French fries?

Do people put anything else on french fries? :raz:

Growing up we had brown gravy and turkey gravey....can be used interchangeably

French fries get whatever kind the diner has, and I may have discovered white gravy on a drive to Florida about 15 years ago. Chili's would be the major source of white gravy in NJ.

where does the cream of mushroom pork chop bake stand in all this graviness?

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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Here in south-central Kansas, we're enough in the middle that we eat EVERY kind of gravy. White gravy for sausage gray & biscuits, chipped beef gravy, chicken fried steak, fried chicken, chicken fried chicken, brown gravy for roast and potatoes, roast beef hash, salisbury steak, regular steak, etc.

I mostly thicken my meat gravies with cornstarch (looks nicer, sets up quicker). I try to avoid the powdered stuff unless I simply don't have the stock/juices to make gravy from scratch, or I'm in a tremendous hurry to eat gravy. (Such a thing has been known to happen!)

My white gravy (for biscuits and gravy) - I just sprinkle a few tablespoons of flour over the mostly-drained sausage, stir it around to "roux it up", pour in the milk slowly, and season it. If I'm making "plain white", I just make a roux of equal parts cooking fat and flour, brown it just a touch, and pour in the milk and season. If I'm feeling it, I'll even saute some minced onion in the fat before adding the flour. Seasoning salt/pepper/shot of cayenne sauce.

Don't think I've ever tried red-eye gravy, but from what I've heard, it's mostly too salty for my tastes.

But I'm always looking for a reason to add gravy to the menu. Did you know that ANY kind of gravy goes good on French fries?

Do people put anything else on french fries? :raz:

Growing up we had brown gravy and turkey gravey....can be used interchangeably

French fries get whatever kind the diner has, and I may have discovered white gravy on a drive to Florida about 15 years ago. Chili's would be the major source of white gravy in NJ.

where does the cream of mushroom pork chop bake stand in all this graviness?

tracey

Around here it goes with noodles.

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For me anyway, here in Southern Ontario, it's always brown gravy. Chicken, beef, pork, turkey, french fries. Gravy in this house (and when I was growing up), was always started with a roux, the roux was cooked to the desired degree of darkness, then stock added. I don't get white gravy at all. :biggrin: In fact, I rarely if ever, have seen white gravy here in a restaurant.

Marlene

cookskorner

Practice. Do it over. Get it right.

Mostly, I want people to be as happy eating my food as I am cooking it.

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All our gravy is homemade.  I prefer milk (white) gravy on chicken fried steak and brown (water) gravy on everything else.  Red eye is for biscuits.

Water gravy? Do you add water to the pan juices? Or are you referring to some other technique?

I add flour and water to the pan juices--removing some grease if it is too much--wonderful thick brown gravy--balance all ingredients and add salt and pepper to taste.

Cooking is chemistry, baking is alchemy.

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where does the cream of mushroom pork chop bake stand in all this graviness?

tracey

Ah, I hadn't considered gravy's casserolosity. Although, is cream of mushroom pork chop bake a casserole? Not sure, although I've had it. I've looked at a number of cookbooks from the early 20th century, and they all assume that you can make a white sauce (called sauce, not gravy) without instructions, and then place on appropriate foodstuffs or in a baked dish. Gravy seems to be seperate. I suppose now I will also have to ponder the divide between sauce and gravy (gravy being a subset of sauce, I assume!). Is gravy just a humble form of sauce? And what IS the difference between Cream of Mushroom condensed soup and a can or jar of pre-made gravy? Besides the mushrooms, I mean. :smile:

Thanks for the responses-- anyone out there from the deep south? New England? The Pacific northwest?

-Rinsewind

"An' I expect you don't even know that we happen to produce some partic'ly fine wines, our Chardonnays bein' 'specially worthy of attention and compet'tively priced, not to mention the rich, firmly structur'd Rusted Dunny Valley Semillons, which are a tangily refreshin' discovery for the connesewer ...yew bastard?"

"Jolly good, I'll have a pint of Chardonnay, please."

Rincewind and Bartender, The Last Continent by Terry Pratchett

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Ahhh we are going deeper now because isnt plain white gravy just Bechamel?

And isn't cream of mushroom soup also a bechamel...or is that a veloute

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

garden state motorcyle association

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  • 1 month later...

Growing up in Hawaii, I had no inkling that there was a white gravy. Brown gravy was everywhere. Now that I've been in Missouri for many years, white gravy is definitely more prevalent and THE staple for breakfasts or any type of fried cutlets. I enjoy it on scrambled eggs more so than biscuits.

Cheese - milk's leap toward immortality. Clifton Fadiman

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I had no inkling that there was a white gravy

Me too! I'm just reading about it now, and thinking "gravy on SCONES?"

In NZ, we sometimes made a paler brown gravy with milk for chicken, but it was understood that it was strictly for wimps :wink: and that the Real Thing was made with equal quantities of pea flour (what was THAT, I wonder now?) and flour or gravy mix, stirred into the pan juices and simmered on the stove-top, while the roast had a little kip on the carving plate.

Real Gravy had to be coaxed out of the gravy boat with a sharp tap to the rump, it never poured freely!

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  • 2 years later...

Reviving this gravy thread.

I have lots of leftover roast chicken and no drippings. I love brown gravy, but don't know a great way to make it sans drippings. Thoughts?

I've in the past been fairly happy with 2 tbsp melted butter, 2 tbsp flour cooked for a bit, 1 1/2 cup chicken broth from my fave company Better than Bouillon. I sometimes add a little thyme or wine for zing, but it's not that exciting.

Any recipes for gravy with no drippings available?

Grace

<edited to add> Maybe I belong in the cooking section of the forum since I'm asking for recipes? Moderator feel free to move me.

I guess to stay true to the initial post I can add I'm a Yankee from Boston and grew up not realizing gravy came from anything but a small envelope mixed with water poured over instant mashed potatoes. :)

Edited by FoodMuse (log)

Grace Piper, host of Fearless Cooking

www.fearlesscooking.tv

My eGullet Blog: What I ate for one week Nov. 2010

Subscribe to my 5 minute video podcast through iTunes, just search for Fearless Cooking

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I grew up in a mixed marriage. Yankees and Southerners. :laugh:

White gravy was unknown in the Yankee house. But, the brown gravy was superb.

White gravy, and I think it is gravy because it is prepared from the pan drippings and deglaze Jenni, is mostly a breakfast item with the exception of country fried steak or fried pork chops. Brown gravy is for meat centric meals again from the pan drippings.

Red eye, which my Ohio wife had never had, is a ham and eggs and grits breakfast exclusive. Heck you have all the goods right there.

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Growing up Irish in Brooklyn, gravy was made with the drippings of every roasted meat. Wondra was carefully worked into the drippings and water used to cook the vegetables was kept to add to the mix. It was always brown and if it wasn't brown enough, a little Gravy Master was added to get the color just right. My husband grew up in an Italian household and the gravy served with a roast was just the grease and drippings from the pan. His family didn't like the gravy that I made for a Thanksgiving dinner because it wasn't what their mother made.

I never saw white gravy until I was on a vacation in Florida. That was the first I had heard of chicken fried steak. White gravy just doesn't look appetizing to me so I have never tried it. Out here in NM we don't do gravy - we have 'red or green'.

KathyM

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I have to ask this - I've always been facinated by white gravy. What makes it gravy rather than just a white sauce? In the UK, gravy always seems to be brown, though I could be wrong, and white sauce is a different thing.

I think the main difference between a white sauce and a white gravy is that the white gravy usually uses drippings/rendered fat from the meat (or from another meat, for example, like sausage) and can be made in the same pan used to cook the meat entree. Of course, there are different ways to make the gravies but it supposed to be about economy and efficiency (why dirty another pan? Why throw out that chicken fat from the skillet when it can be used for gravy?).

Whereas a white sauce is usually made in a separate pan and normally doesn't use a rendered fat. Generally they use butter for the fat.

Of course, there are exceptions but I think this is the main difference between the two.

 

“Peter: Oh my god, Brian, there's a message in my Alphabits. It says, 'Oooooo.'

Brian: Peter, those are Cheerios.”

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