Making a good Gravy and the forest of Rambouillet

Serves: n/a
Cost: ~€0.30
Preparation time: ~30 minutes
Calories: n/a

Happy, er, Monday everyone. The start of a brand new week! I hope you all had a wonderful weekend and are all set for the week ahead! As I mentioned in my previous post, I went off on Sunday for a little picnic in the forest of Rambouillet. I had rather been hoping for good weather; forests never look better as when they have beautiful rays of sunshine streaking through the branches. The weather was not on my side this time alas – a brisk wind, grey skies and occasional spots of rain made the idea of a picnic out amongst the trees rather unlikely, but damnit, I’m British. A bit of rain never ruined my fun so I scuttled off to the kitchen to grill my chicken, whip up the potato salad and make my garlic bread.

Picnic food

We loaded it all into the car with some coffee and books and off we went – still hoping that it would magically become hot and sunny by the time we arrived at the spot, just outside of the picturesque little village of Gambaiseuil. Once there, unsurprisingly, the weather had not turned, so we enjoyed the food in the car and then decided to go off for a little walk down the road. Despite the chill breeze it was lovely to see the blossom trees, budding leaves and even bluebells on the grassy banks.


Rambouillet Forest

Having enjoyed the sights a bit we decided it was about time to make our way back, and as we did, wouldn’t you believe it – out comes the sun. Typical! πŸ˜€

Skies clearing

For today’s recipe I thought that since I’ve posted roast potatoes, roast beef and Yorkshire puddings too I may as well post a recipe for gravy too. The addition of a good gravy can turn a roast dinner from a good meal into a great meal and is especially important on top of Yorkshire puds – they do seem perfectly formed as gravy containers anyway, don’t they?

Someone asked me in my Yorkshire puddings post if I ever use Bisto – instant gravy in granule form. I’ll admit to having used this once or twice in the past, though nothing can beat a home-made version. Ideally, this isn’t something you can knock up on the spur of the moment. You need to plan for this at the same time as you’re putting the meat into the oven, if not the night before. I like to marinate my roast beef overnight with plenty of garlic, olive oil, red wine and onion. The next day, I put my meat into the oven and then save the marinade for the gravy at the end. Not only this, but an excellent tip when roasting meat – any meat – is to ensure it doesn’t actually touch the roasting pan. Having the meat touching the roasting pan will result in burning and bits of meat stuck to the pan – no-one wants that. I slice up an onion into three pieces and place it on the bottom of the pan. Place the meat on top and roast as normal, and then by the time the meat is done and resting, you have a delicious roasted onion to add to your gravy!

Another important ingredient is good stock – you should use a good, home-made vegetable or meat stock. If you have to use a bouillon cube, just remember that they usually contain a lot of salt and will impact the final flavour! Enjoy your awesome gravy and have a wonderful week – see you back here on Thursday for a tasty dessert!

Making a good Gravy

[learn_more caption=”Video Recipe”]



  • 500ml of good, home-made stock
  • Roasted onion, garlic, carrot etc – anything laid under the meat while it roasts
  • Leftover marinade made from red wine, crushed garlic, onion etc
  • Meat juices from the roast
  • 1 tbsp Flour


  1. Once your meat is roasted in the oven, remove it from the oven and allow it to stand while you take the onion which was roasted underneath the meat. Place into a saucepan with any vegetables from the marinade – garlic, carrot and so forth. Add in the flour and heat through, stirring well until the flour is well mixed with the vegetables. Add in the stock and the meat juices and bring to the boil.
    Cooking up the gravy
  2. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer until the gravy has reduced down and thickened and then strain, before serving up!



  1. says

    Hi Charles,

    How spooky-here I am reading your blog when up pings an email to say you have just left a message on mine!

    Lovely sounding day out if only the weather had been kinder…chilly here in South Wales yesterday-I was going to go for a walk in the woods to pick wild garlic but stuck to sowing seeds in the greenhouse instead!

    • says

      Hehe, I tend to publish and catch up on my blogging buddies at roughly the same time – I think your blog is one of my most recently subscribed to and I tend to work up or down from the top or bottom of the list so you were first off the bat for me too :)

      I love the idea of picking wild garlic. I used to go walking in the forest near the stately home of Longleat in England. It was near my parents home and the forest there was packed with wild garlic. In some seasons, walking along you could smell it so strongly… such an amazing smell. How does one use it once it’s picked (and is it the same as regular garlic?… like, a bulb with cloves etc?)

      • says

        Hi Charles,

        Yes you can certainly locate the wild garlic by the smell!! Unfortunately some novice pickers do pick bluebelles by mistake… Wild garlic is actually very mild.
        With Wild garlic, the young tender leaves can be used in cooking-wild garlic risotto for example whilst the larger leaves can be used to steam fish. The little white flowers when they come, are great added to a salad. I don’t dig up the whole plant or use the root so it can grow again. In the USA, they are getting worried that it has been seriously over picked-they tend to pick the whole plant-roots and all as it has become a trendy ingredients for chefs. As it takes a long time to fully establish-5-7 years, they are worried about long term survival…

        • says

          Ah, good to know, regarding the establishment time – I probably would have pulled up the whole thing too, not knowing it took so long. If I am able to find it I’ll be sure to only gather some leaves (or flowers).

          I had to lol about the bluebells… they do look pretty similar! Does mean then that when I see white “bluebells” that they’re actually garlic plants? I don’t see them in France so much… need to look about for them, but in a beautiful forest near my parents’ home the whole forest floor was blanketed with bluebells and there would be an off white one… I’m not sure if “white bluebells” exist, or if it was actually garlic?

  2. says

    White blue belles definitely exist-I’m looking at some right now in my garden…

    With wild garlic, the flowers are not at all similar so you should have no problem identifying them. However it is felt that by the time the wild garlic flowers, the leaves are too tough for eating though you can still use them for steaming fish etc. Before the flower come is the best time to pick the tender leave for eating hence why some people mistakenly pick the bluebells which also haven’t flowered at that point.

    If I can stir myself next weekend I’ll go picking and perhaps do a post on my blog…

    • says

      Sorry to hook onto this thread, but since i’m just as curious about foraging for wild garlic, I’ve been devouring the info you give out here. YES PLEASE DO A POST ON YOUR BLOG!

      i’m wondering though, if we do pick the wrong plant, can bluebells be eaten/how do they taste?

    • says

      Ah, please do make a post! I’m going to go into the forest anyway though, armed with a print-out of what wild garlic looks like… see if I can find some πŸ˜€

  3. says

    I love a good roast and a good roast is not complete without a good gravy. This looks like the most amazing Sunday night dinner ever. Great comfort food. Sorry to hear about the picnic! I can’t stand being outdoors without sunshine – but of course, I’m from Sydney and we expect if not demand, good weather! xx

  4. says

    Breath taking photo’s! Too bad the weather did not turn, oh well makes a more interesting story to have your picnic in the car! I love anything roasted,gives it more of a comfort food.

    • says

      Thanks Lisa! It’s actually been *really* cold here recently… just when we thought we were getting a little heat-wave too, hehe :)

  5. says

    Gorgeous gravy – and I love plenty of it! Your picnic sounds lovely despite the weather and the photos are stunning. As you say, weΒ΄re British and a little rain and damp never hurt anyone. When I take Big Man to the south coast in the UK he finds it hysterical to see folk sitting huddled next to wind breaks or on the old beach huts shivering with the cold “enjoying” their picnics, but for him the funniest is the old folk who drive up to the sea from in their cars, have a picnic (wothout getting out) and then drive off again πŸ˜‰

    • says

      Haha, damn, I know that feeling – driving up to the sea, sitting in the car and driving off again… Aaaah, the British idiosyncrasies πŸ˜€ My family used to drive past the sea, and then go up to the cliffs where we’d enjoy our picnic in the car, away from the freezing wind. We’d at least force ourselves to take a little “constitutional” in the rain afterwards though. Seeing the moonlight across the sea was always a sight well worth it!

  6. says

    Lovely pictures of the signs of spring. And in spite of those gray clouds, just a peaking through of the sun to say hello. We’ve had a cold week followed by a rainy weekend. No picnics for me.

    Two gorgeous plates and a gravy to die for. Sometimes I just want to pour the stuff on everything … my meat, the potatoes, the veggies, stuffing. Thank you for making me so hungry so early in the day. Oh well … leftover roast pork shoulder blade steaks and french fries. If I only had some gravy to go with it. :)

    • says

      Hi A_Boleyn, thanks for your kind comment :) It was a great little picnic… even if it was too cold to go outside much. Sometimes you just have to make the best of the situation :)

  7. says

    Hi Charles, great gravy and you are so right about how a good one can elevate the entire dinner. Pouring hot gravy over mashed potatoes and the Yorkshire sounds just lovely. I’ll be whipping up gravy for Sunday dinner next weekend when my brother and his family are over for a belated Easter dinner. I use the vegetables that I make my gravy with as the thickener so that I can eliminate the flour as the thickener and it’s just lovely. I just remembered that in the early 80’s JT was in England with his family and mentioned that they often serve an onion gravy along side a regular roast gravy. I could never quite get it right…any chance you might know of a good recipe you could post one day? Happy Monday to you too!

  8. says

    Charles, this is the perfect part II to your puds… I’m totally excited and can’t wait to share with my hubby. I do the yorkshire pudding and veggies, he does the roast and gravy. I like that you throw the vegetables in there too as part of the process. Great idea. Your photos of the forest are beautiful. I especially like the second to last one – the grey of the trees contrasted against the blue hued branches and the light ground cover. That is one gorgeous shot!

    • says

      Thanks Kelly – the gravy didn’t turn out as dark as it normally does for me which was a bit disappointing. The beef joint I cooked had hardly any juices running out which didn’t help.

      I’m glad you like the photos – the second to last one is actually one of the first forest shots I took which I half life – I find forest so difficult to photograph… it always ends up looking so monotone and washed out.

  9. says

    We make pan gravy, Charles, and what we want for it is exactly the brownings from the pan and the little bits of meat that stick. Method: remove roast meat to rest. Put pan on two burners of stove. Skim off excess fat. Add water (or stock) to de-glaze pan, stirring and scraping all the while. Add flour to thicken. Cook down for awhile, still stirring. Salt as needed. We do this with roast lamb and roast turkey. We used to do it with roast beef when we ate beef, in which case we would use the gravy and the cooked roast to make stew.

    • says

      Hi Sharyn – I find this method works really well for chicken as it has masses of juices, but I haven’t had so much luck with beef for some reason… it also depends a lot on the kind of pan you have as well. My pans are either not safe for the hob or ridiculously heavy and unwieldy.

  10. says

    The photo of the forest is my favorite. That is a sumptous picnic meal. Too bad about the weather but you arrived at your destination and made the most of it.

    • says

      Thanks Norma – “making the most of it” is my motto. Besides, the place was pretty much deserted… hard not to sit back and enjoy yourself when it’s so peaceful!

  11. says

    I couldn’t agree more with you Charles, a good sauce definitely makes the dish even more delicious! I love your method, basic, quality ingredients. Most people get so anxious about making gravy; you’ve done a fabulous job in detailing the recipe!

    • says

      Thanks Linda – I think once you have a basic routine down for something like gravy you can repeat the process and improve it every time! I’m feeling hungry right now though… I knew it was a bad idea to check my site before bed πŸ˜€

    • says

      Hi Barb – oh dear… how does your family make gravy? I know there’s a sauce I saw once which was a “gravy”, but not like anything I’d ever seen… it was a white-ish colour… something unique to the US I think, or maybe North America in general? Is yours like that… or have you heard of that one?

        • says

          Ah, I like thick gravy to be honest, although I do like the very runny stuff. Some people make it too thin… it’s almost water and swirling around on your plate. If a bit of potato falls off your fork then you can say goodbye to your tablecloth as it gets showered with a million specks of greasy gravy!

  12. says

    I just want to dive into the gravy on the plate with the roast, puds and veg. What a beautiful forest, and while it is always nice to have sun for a picnic, sometimes you see more beautiful colors and details when it’s overcast.

    • says

      Thanks Betsy – a good sunday roast… such a great meal to have :) Totally agree about the sun too – sunlight reflecting off raindrop covered leaves is incredibly beautiful!

  13. says

    Oh my friend.. both of these dishes in this post look absolutely amazing., You have no idea how hungry I am right now lol. And your gravy looks delicious. I love homemade gravy

  14. says

    I’m happy you have managed to go out on Sunday even though it was not as you have planned it. We have had an awful stay-at-home weather (Γ  ne pas mettre un chien dehors, as say the French ;- ) ) and we did stay at home all day.
    Your gravy looks luscious! I can imagine it with so many things and wonder if the British serve it only with beef roast or also pork? I have never made a beef roast in my life and I have never tasted any gravy either, so even though the concept is not unknown I’m a complete novice! Thanks for sharing this great recipe and your Sunday walk photos.

    • says

      Hi Sissi – we have gravy with everything… sausages, onions, mashed potato, toad in the hole, chips (we even put chips and gravy into a sandwich!)

      I still can’t believe you never made a roast beef… It’s a really satisfying thing to make, though if you’re not a fan of beef then maybe you could try it with a nice roast pork instead?

      • says

        Hi, Charles. Thanks for the suggestion. I’m not a fan of beef roast really… I mean I don’t find it bad, but it’s just wasting good meat on me. (As I told you good beef for me it’s either cooked until it falls into pieces in a curry-style dish or raw, in steak tartare. Otherwise I don’t like the taste of beef I think… I have tried so many different cuts, cow races, restaurants… (my husband loves beef) and still have the same opinion).
        Maybe I might try it one day with turkey roast? Even though I like it a lot, it is always dry… (Pork roast is sooooo good I never think of adding anything to it).

  15. says

    Funny but I’ve been wanting to eat yorkshire pudding recently too! I’ll have to make some after seeing this because the way you made the gravy has caught my attention and my temptation to combine the two so I’ll try this one out soon:)

  16. says

    Lovely recipe, I love the photos as well! I always amazes me when people use gravy from a can or packets….yuck! Once you get it down, it’s easy! Your’s sounds perfect! :)

    • says

      The brand we get in England, bisto, isn’t too bad in a pinch to be fair, but it’s a very flat taste… it never has any of the delicious meaty complexness which you get in a nice home-made one!

  17. says

    Enjoyed the pictures of the forest – As for the gravy, you were instinctive/intuitive which is what cooking is all about, and that’s what I rely on heavily for the most part – it cannot but taste good made that way – Nice post – you may enjoy my current post – so do check out! cheers, priya

    • says

      Thanks for your kind comment Priya – I’m glad you like the look of the gravy! I’ll head on over to your post and check it out, thanks a lot!

  18. says

    Dear Charles,

    Your gravy looks gorgeous. I agree a good gravy is so important to complement all the effort one has put into a roast or steaks. I read that many chefs also stir in a good knob of butter at the end of the process to give the gravy that “gleaming” look and of course to add even more flavour.

    • says

      Hi Chopinand, I’d read the tip about the butter too, although I’d never seen or heard of it being applied to a gravy before… Definitely wouldn’t hurt to try! πŸ˜€

  19. says

    Hi Charles! I must admit that I have never been a big fan of gravy. Mostly because I didn’t grow up with it and it looks “unhealthy” after looking how it’s made. But I know I’m missing out the whole culture of good gravy sauce. Like Ramen, it’s not healthy but it’s so good. I think gravy is something on the same line. I think my first few trials of gravy wasn’t the great experience, which made me stop wanting more. My husband loves it and pour like crazy. I should make my own one day and judge how delicious gravy is! Thanks for the recipe – as always your photos are stunning and convincing me to try! πŸ˜‰

    • says

      Hi Nami, I do hope I’m able to change your mind about gravy sometime – for me, I really feel like there is nothing better with roasted meat, veg and potatoes… maybe that’s just the Brit in me speaking though πŸ˜€

  20. says

    Oh charles brilliant post!! I’ve always wanted to know the secrets to a good gravy. I love it. I didn’t grow up with it either, but I love gravy, maybe because I’m used to having sauces/curries i.e. sth liquid over rice or noodles; the whole dish just feels dry without it.

    I’ve seen “cheat” recipes which use cornflour to thicken it up, what do you think about that?

    • says

      Hi Shuhan – for me, cornflour is a perfectly valid way to thicken it up, however, I read a tip that you should use normal flour to thicken sauces, not cornflour (despite what the manufacturer tells you!) πŸ˜€

  21. says

    Hi Charles!

    The weather didnt look that bad on the picture. Little picnics like that can rejuvenate ones soul, isnt it! =)

    Your gravy recipe is going to be useful. I am realy enjoying to learn more from your english food heritage. People in europe tend to make fun of the english food. Siriously, these people are missing out big deal!

    • says

      Hi Helene – indeed, the weather was really brightening up at the end, but of course by that time we needed to get back home :(

      I totally think England could contribute a fair bit to the world of cuisine… if only the world of cuisine would give us a chance, lol πŸ˜€

  22. says

    Looks like you had a nice time in Gambaiseuil…gorgeous photos! Of course the sun decided to come out as you were leaving. Always happens that way, huh? This gravy sounds unbelievable! Want want want. :)

  23. says

    All stunning photos Charles! I’m still drooling over that chicken drummy! Oh yum. And I have to say, I giggled when I read that you were bringing books on the picnic. Not because it’s absurd or anything, but mostly because I can’t remember the last time I was able to sit and read a book on a picnic. I did take a bunch with me to Hawaii…didn’t open a single one. Ah well…I’m sure someday I’ll have time for that again. :) Love the gravy recipe! I’m going to pass it along to Mike. He likes trying different gravy recipes.

    • says

      Thanks Kristy. Haha, I had to chuckle… I can well imagine that getting a bit of time to read a book must be hard with two children running about. I’ll make the most of my time right now I think πŸ˜€

      Let me know if you give the gravy a try!

    • says

      Thanks Yudith – I posted a recipe a while back for an avocado soup which takes just a few minutes to make… All it is is stock, heated, and then add in an avocado and blend until smooth. Absolutely delicious and so fast, but with something like that you absolutely have to use a good stock!

  24. says

    Charles, you live in such a beautiful place. I am glad you were able to take some time for your self and head to the beautiful forest of Rambouillet. I love your photo shots!
    A good gravy with all the fixings is something I have not made in a long time. Those yorkshire puddings on your plate look like something I would like to try. I am now going to look for those on your website. It is only 7am here on Friday morning and after looking at your posts I want a roast, gravy and all the fixins. LOL Take care, BAM

    • says

      Thanks Bam, I love living so close to nature, but also being close enough to the town and city as well. It’s a good balance. It seems Yorkshire puddings are quite the popular thing at the moment – I was quite surprised how many people declared an urgent desire to eat them πŸ˜€

  25. says

    Forget the sunshine, Charles! My favorite day in the forest is a grey and damp one. Your picnic lunch looks delightful, as does your roast meal. I must admit I’m a bit of a gravy snob and, like my grandmother before me, can make a wonderful gravy out of a piece of shoe leather (well, not literally). So I appreciate your remarks about the use of bouillon. I don’t know about there, but here in the US you can also buy packets of “gravy mix” next to the also totally unnecessary packets of taco seasoning. In reply to your question in one of the earlier comments, the white gravy is also called milk gravy or cream gravy, and it is a Southern US thing. (See my post about Cream Gravy and my Southern grandmother and great grandmother for the details.) I love your photo with the beautiful smooth gravy flowing from the jug!

    • says

      Hi Jean – I actually always feel really happy when it’s grey and raining, and there’s something wonderful about walking in a forest when it’s rainy too. That kind of damp, mistiness you see and smell… So wonderful. I chuckled at your remark about the taco mix – we have “guacamole seasoning” here, which is basically a sachet of cumin, garlic powder and salt (and a load of MSG probably). Ridiculous. The French don’t really eat gravy – at least not in the same style as other people I’ve found. Thanks for letting me know about the milk gravy. It sounds very interesting – I can’t imagine what it must taste like but I’d love to try it.

    • says

      Haha, no, that was me leaning back with my camera as far as I could to try and get the whole thing in the frame and stretching my arm as far forward as possible to pour the damn gravy. Nearly fell over a few times :p

  26. says

    Oh I just hate it when you spend the picnic in the cold and only when you pack up to leave the sun comes up!!
    back to the recipe, I love how silky smooth your gravy is, and I loved the fact that the recipe asks for homemade stock. Once you made your own stock there is really no turning back. The store bought stock doesn’t even stand a chance

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