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A question about gravy

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
hello
I manage a small pub kitchen and we have been experimenting with gravy over the last 2 months. I hired a cook with "18 years" experience :crazy: with the idea that we could move from packaged gravy and soups to homemade gravies and soups. Its worked out somewhat decent so far for the soups but we have been having problems with the gravy.

Here is the recipe we are currently following:
16 cups beef broth
4 cups beef stock
14 oz margarine
14 oz flour
seasoned with salt and pepper.

I have a few questions for any chef out there. The gravy is tasty and thick the first day its made, but the day after its "watery" and has a strange taste to it. We have to add more roux to the gravy in order to get it thickened again and reseason to overcome the weird taste. We have been adding anywhere between 2 oz - 4 oz of flour and margarine the next day to re-thicken the gravy. I would like to know how to stop it from becoming watery and why it tastes strange the next day.
To help answer some questions ill break down the procedures we follow in making and handling the gravy.

First we make the roux, melt the butter over low heat and stir in the flour until they are mixed and let sit over low heat for 4 - 5 minutes. Then we add in the beef stock slowly while stirring.(Sometimes the stock and beef broth are made just before the roux and are still hot.) When the roux and stock are mixed we then add in the broth and bring the gravy to a boil where it thickens quite nicely and then season it. The gravy sits in a steam table for the entire days service. I have the temperature set at 70 Celsius inside the steam table. I hope this information will be helpful! Look forward to some replies :chef:

I would also like to add, I'm totally open to any helpful tips to help improve our gravy.(flavor and procedure) We use beef stock because beef drippings don't come by often enough in the kitchen as we maybe do a small roast once every two weeks.
post #2 of 16
Your ratios making 1 gallon seem correct, so lets eliminate that. I do suggest that you brown your roux as you are making a brown gravy. You can do this on the stove or by pre-browning your flour on a sheet-pan in the oven, stir every once in a while so browning is even. 4 or 5 minutes is really not long enough to cook a roux. The next day is should not be thin unless it is not cooked together enough the day before. In a lot cases if left in steam table all day it will thin out or break because the heat breaks down the cells of the flour which then prevent it from holding the liquids. As far as flavor ,I don't know what is in your beef stock or meat drippings to start. You could be roasting the meat with herbs that are making it bitter
are you taking the fat out of the original drippings after adding liquids?
Another question at the end of day when gravy is removed from steam table is there a layer of oil on top?:chef:
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post #3 of 16
First thing I'd do is get rid of the margarine and use unsalted butter.

Browning the roux to the desired browness is a great idea.

Somewhere, and I could be misremembering, i read that you add cold stock to a hot roux, or hot stock to a cold roux, slowly adding it and stirring constantly.

You might try that and see if it helps.

You could trying adding a nicely browned mirepoix to the roux while browning the roux and then proceed. Just use a chinois or cheesecloth to filter out the veggies.

A nice brown sauce (Espagnole Sauce) is really a basically great gravy.

A la Escoffier seems always to work for me no matter what I'm making.

doc
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 
thanks for the great replies. First, sometimes there is a small layer of oil around the edges, but not all the time. The only spices we are adding are salt and pepper, maybe i can try a different stock product. We don't use beef drippings because we never have enough around, as we make gravy sometimes once a day, but other days when business is slow its made once every two days. We also use margarine because we get it for cheap from our food supplier. I will look at the cost of no salt butter today at the store. I would go with my food supplier however his prices for dairy products are identical with the grocery store on the corner.

I have looked around these forums for other clues as to why we are experiencing problems with the gravy. One possibility is that its not being cooled properly or fast enough. It might also not be covered right in the fridge also, as i work days and some nights but am not around for close. Ill give these other ideas I've uncovered a shot and get back here with my results. :)
thanks for all the help so far :chef:
post #5 of 16
A quick but high quality beef gravy can be made using Campbell's Beef Consomme, It is sold wholesale in # 5 cans. It makes 96 ounces:chef:
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post #6 of 16
Wondering if when making and tasting the sauce, a fresh spoon is being used every time - as in no double dipping? It sounds gross I know and probably out of left field, but maybe that could be helping break down the gravy too quickly.

I'd go with the above suggestions from those who know very very much more than me first :) I'm the first to admit it.

Another thought...how long are you keeping the initial batch of gravy and re-heating for the next day? Are you using what's left of the first one then adding it into the next fresh batch?It could have some reflection on its breaking down.

Hope you find a solution.
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post #7 of 16
Hey Ed, are you adding anything to the consomme, or just
reducing it? Or is it thick enough?
post #8 of 16
he's probably adding flour as a thickener or a roux. Consomme is a strained stock iirc, so watery texture, good flavour
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post #9 of 16
Hm, I always though consomme was "clarified" but then WDIK
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post #10 of 16
Another thought...is the bottom of the holding tray/pot getting a burnt crust on the bottom?

I hate it when I do that to a stew or curry....may as well toss the lot when I do that.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
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post #11 of 16
I add a roux to the consomme. Reason I use consomme is consistancy and flavour. Beef bases are never the same, maybe its the way they are mixed, homemade stocks vary where the consomme is the same all the time. I add 1 can consomme to 40 ounces of water and if you like some red wine bring to boil, cook about 5 minutes add to roux and bring up to boil again. And yes consomme is clarified., but reading the label on campbells it does say beef stock.
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post #12 of 16
I've never had gravy get thin after cooling. Usually the opposite, i wind up thinning it with stock or water. I think it's a problem with not getting cooled down right and bacteria causing it to break down. Seems odd that would happen with every batch though. Or if you are holding it too hot for too long a time the starch will break down and it will get thin. Ask the night crew if it's thin when they put it away. It might be breaking down from too much heat and if you aren't the one to put it away you won't know that.
post #13 of 16
hi there i would believe that your gravy has become watery because it has split. your best bet would be to down size your quantities and make fresh daily to ensure flavour and quality .
post #14 of 16
Many of these replies seem to be giving general tips on gravy making without addressing the actual problem - watery gravy after storage.

I think I know the source of your problem. When we steam table soups or sauces, there is often an open slot in the steam table, which causes steam to rise onto the lid of the soup/sauce pan and drip back into the product. Over the course of a day, this can significantly water down your food.

If you have open slots in the steam table, be sure to keep an empty hotel pan in it to keep the steam from finding its way into your gravies.
post #15 of 16
You state that you are happy with the initial flavor and thickness after making the gravy, so I wouldn't adjust that at all.
If you're happy, we're happy.
If after making and using your "batch" of gravy you are storing significant amounts at the end of the day, you are holding too much at the ready.
Better to batch it, cooling most, and holding smaller amounts for service.
Easy to heat more if needed.
High, prolonged heat would be my guess, breaking down the roux.
This could occur during service, or during cooling.
Shallow and uncovered is the way to go.
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post #16 of 16
From a scientific perspective you are having whats called Synerysis. This is where the starches in your roux, that is used to thicken the gravy, swell to absorb the liquid, sit all day on a steam table slowly breaking down, cool therefore releasing the liquid and then when they reheat they "pop" and lose the ability to reabsorb the liquid. You need a starch that is designed to be reheated or just do what most of us would do and make less gravy but have some roux prepped in advance so you could make it on the fly if needed.
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Flavor: The overall impression combining taste, odor, mouthfeel and trigeminal perception.
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