Low carb gravy

Sometimes cooks are in the middle of making a low-carb meal, seemingly with no problems, only to become stumped by gravy. How much carbohydrate is in gravy? Although some commercial gravies have a lot of added starch, it's quite easy to whip up a homemade gravy that works fine for those who are cutting carbs. Here are the basics of gravy-making, with considerations for low-carb eaters.

What is Gravy?

Gravy is a sauce made from the pan drippings of roast meat. If there aren't drippings, it isn't "real gravy" -- it's technically just a sauce.

The 3 Basic Ingredients of Gravy

You can use all kinds of fancy ingredients for gravy, and some of them are delicious, but all you really need are three basic ingredients:
  1. Pan drippings (usually with most of the fat removed)
  2. Liquid (usually stock or broth; milk gravies include some milk)
  3. Thickener

What are "Drippings"?

Drippings are what's left on the bottom of the pan when you're done roasting a piece of meat. They include the fat from the meat, juices left from the meat and vegetables cooked along with the meat (if any), any basting liquid used in the process, and, most importantly, the brown stuff stuck on the bottom of the pan.

The Basic Procedure for Making Gravy

  1. Remove the meat and vegetables from the roasting pan.
  2. Pour off the drippings.
  3. If you can put your roasting pan on the stove, this is ideal. Heat it and degalze the pan with chicken broth or stock, stirring to dissolve all the brown bits.
  4. Whisk in the rest of the drippings (not the rest of the fat, which would make the gravy too greasy). A whisk helps avoid lumps.
  5. Whisk in more broth or stock, if needed. If you want to use alternative thickeners (see below), this is the time to add them.
  6. Bring to a boil. Cook for about 5 minutes -- longer if you want to reduce the gravy more thicker it gets.The gravy will have some salt and seasonings from the meat, but you may need to adjust amounts.

The only potentially problematic part of the gravy for people who are cutting carbohydrates is the thickener. There are a few alternatives here.

Consider just reducing the sauce with no thickener.

This is called "au jus" rather than gravy. The nice thing about gravy is that you don't need as much thickener as some other sauces, since a certain amount of gelatin-like substances are in the drippings. Just boil the sauce down until it is the thickness you want.

  • Reduced Cream - use cream to thicken, and then the mixture is reduced. Cream has 6.6 grams of carb per cup.
  • Sour Cream - Some low-carb recipes suggest whisking in sour cream to thicken the gravy
  • Hard Cheese - I like using a combination of a grated hard cheese, mascopone and a little double cream yoghurt.