Gravy Kriegel au Vin
As a child, if I saw a roast beef come in with the Sunday morning groceries, I’d be beside myself for the rest of the day. “Kind of like having dessert during the meal,” my father shares the recipe for my favorite gravy, “created by a late mathematics graduate named John Kriegel, whose medical challenges apparently did not include diabetes.” I’ll give you the ingredients list verbatim, and leave you to your own interpretations of “some” and “maybe.”
2 C water
some brown sugar
2 cubes beef bouillon
1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce
some seasoned salt (Lowry’s, e.g.)
some thyme (ground or leaves)
some burgundy wine
maybe some soy sauce
2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp Crisco
This is a two-parter, the first of which is stock preparation. Put the water into a large cast iron skillet. Pour enough ketchup from the bottle into the middle of the water to form a 4-in circle. Drop some (2 to 3 tbsp) brown sugar on top of the ketchup, then drop 2 beef bouillon cubes onto the sugar. Add about a tbsp of Worcestershire and sprinkle liberally with seasoned salt. Add about 1/2 tsp of thyme, pour in 1/4 C or so of burgundy, and set the pan over high heat. Stir well and bring to a boil. My father advises that you taste and adjust the stock as it cooks, and “if the taste is disorganized, add some soy sauce several squirts at a time as a tightener.” Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, “until a red/brown scum forms on top. Don’t remove scum.” Turn off the heat and pour the liquid into a large measuring cup or bowl.
Onto making the gravy. Using the same pan, heat 2 tbsp shortening over medium heat. Add 2 tbsp flour and mix with the oil to form a roux. Don’t let the roux pass from tan to dark brown or you’ll need to start over. Lower the heat, wait one minute, then add the gravy liquid, 1/2 C at a time, stirring with each addition until completely incorporated into “a thin mud-like mixture.” Add enough liquid to make the gravy slightly thinner than the final desired consistency. Keep the gravy warm until you’re ready to transfer to a boat; whisk the skin that forms on top back in before serving. If it becomes too thick, add a little water and stir, and if it’s thin, simmer until it thickens.
D. Smith always makes a flawless Yorkshire pudding to accompany the gravy and roast beef (perhaps a future entry), and a green vegetable should find some space on the table for show and contrast. D, originally from Falmouth, Maine, is an intrepid database tsar, former military linguist, and versatile self-taught cook. A cast-iron die-hard, my father would like to remind us all of the most important ingredient in whatever we’re cooking: heat. Yes, even more than butter.