How do I make a flavourful vegetarian gravy that is satisfactory to my family, to provide with both equally roast meat and a vegetarian option? They all look to count on dried mushrooms and liquor for flavour, both of which are unpopular with the little ones.
Jennifer, Blackpool
Excellent gravy is so considerably much more than an accompaniment it’s the spine of any roast evening meal, holding collectively all the various things on the plate, regardless of whether that is meat or a veggie giving, together with all the standard suspects – potatoes! Yorkshires! Carrots! “Great gravy, vegetarian or usually, is all about the high quality of the inventory,” states Sarah Wasserman, director of foodstuff at plant-based Mildreds in London. “Homemade is most effective, and you can keep vegetable offcuts in the freezer right up until you have a wonderful comprehensive bag for making stock.”

Wasserman favours a dark inventory, which she achieves by roasting onions, carrots, mushrooms (sorry, young children), tomatoes, leeks and the like, right up until sweet and caramelised. “Use the complete vegetable,” she claims. “Onion skins, for instance, are in particular good for introducing color.” You will want herbs this sort of as rosemary and sage in there, far too, for a “nice foundation note”. Then, as soon as the roast veg are at collapsing point, fry them in a deep saucepan, go over with water and boil “until the liquid is deeply coloured”.

The superior information for Jennifer and her quest to satisfy the complete family is that you never automatically have to have to harness dried mushrooms, this kind of as porcini, to get a flavourful gravy, but you will want to include umami in some shape or variety. Wasserman suggests turning to crimson miso, dim soy sauce or Marmite to get the required colour and depth of flavour, although also holding the kids on aspect. “A superior-high quality, prosperous purple wine or port minimized to a whisper will give colour, sweetness, a hint of acidity and a generous splash of luxury,” she adds, nevertheless, currently being anyone who almost never drinks, she admits that she, too, can come across the style overpowering, “especially if the liquor is not cooked out as it need to be”. Instead, for a a lot more refined sweetness and acidity, she suggests applying superior-quality organic and natural apple juice failing that, she states, vinegars these as balsamic or sherry will also do the trick, or stir in some redcurrant jelly, any leftover cranberry sauce which is knocking about or, as Jamie Oliver does in his Xmas Cookbook, blackcurrant jam and tomato puree (additionally red-wine vinegar).

You could even make your gravy all about the onions, as Richard Makin, AKA School Night Vegan, does by frying a roughly chopped white a single in butter right until it is starting to brown. In go some garlic and bay leaves, adopted by flour and stock, then, as soon as that’s all thickened, he provides soy sauce and seasons, just before straining Queen Delia Smith goes a move even further and adds a splash of Worcestershire sauce, nevertheless you’ll need to have to check out it’s a no-anchovy version for the vegetarian contingent.

Alison Roman, on the other hand, depends on brown butter and a dim roux for “complex flavour”, before whisking in stock and simmering with bay leaves, thyme, sherry vinegar, soy sauce and some seasoning. “The soy and vinegar aren’t detectable as singular ingredients, but they fortify the saltiness and present a smack of tanginess,” she writes. Which is just yet extra proof that brown butter helps make every little thing much better. No arguments.