Gravy is a sauce, made often from the juices that run naturally from meat or vegetables during cooking. In North America the term can refer to a wider variety of sauces. The gravy may be further colored and flavored with gravy salt (a simple mix of salt and caramel food colouring) or gravy browning (gravy salt dissolved in water) or ready-made cubes and powders can be used as a substitute for natural meat or vegetable extracts. Canned gravies are also available. Gravy is commonly served with roasts, meatloaf, rice, and mashed potatoes.
Chocolate gravy is a variety of gravy made with fat, flour, cocoa powder and sometimes a small amount of sugar.
Egg gravy is a béchamel sauce that is served over biscuits. Meat drippings (usually from bacon) and flour are used to make a thick roux. The roux is salted and peppered to taste. Water and milk (even parts) are added, and the liquid is brought back up to a boil. A well-beaten egg is then slowly added while the gravy is stirred or whisked swiftly, cooking the egg immediately and separating it into small fragments in the gravy.
Giblet gravy has the giblets of turkey or chicken added when it is to be served with those types of poultry, or uses stock made from the giblets.
Onion gravy is made from large quantities of slowly sweated, chopped onions mixed with stock or wine. Commonly served with bangers and mash, eggs, chops, or other grilled or fried meat which by way of the cooking method would not produce their own gravy.
Vegetable gravy or vegetarian gravy is gravy made with boiled or roasted vegetables. A quick and flavorful vegetable gravy can be made from any combination of vegetable broth or vegetable stock, flour, and one of either butter, oil, or margarine. One recipe uses vegetarian bouillon cubes with cornstarch (corn flour) as a thickener (cowboy roux), which is whisked into boiling water. Sometimes vegetable juices are added to enrich the flavor, which may give the gravy a dark green color. Wine could be added. Brown vegetarian gravy can also be made with savory yeast extract like Marmite or Vegemite. There are also commercially produced instant gravy granules which are suitable for both vegetarians and vegans.
White gravy (sawmill gravy in Southern U.S. cuisine) is the gravy typically used in biscuits and gravy and chicken fried steak. It is essentially a Béchamel sauce, with the roux being made of meat drippings and flour. Milk or cream is added and thickened by the roux; once prepared, black pepper and bits of mild sausage or chicken liver are sometimes added. Besides white and sawmill gravy, common names include country gravy, milk gravy, and sausage gravy.
In British cuisine, as well as in the cuisines of Commonwealth countries like Australia and New Zealand, the word gravy refers only to the meat based sauce (and vegetarian/vegan alternatives) derived from meat juices, stock cubes or gravy granules. Use of the word "gravy" does not include other thickened sauces. One of the most popular forms is onion gravy, which is eaten with sausages, Yorkshire pudding and roast meat.
In many parts of Asia, particularly India, Malaysia, and Singapore, the word "gravy" is used to refer to any thickened liquid part of a dish. For example, the liquid part of a thick curry may be referred to as gravy.
In the Mediterranean, Maghreb cuisine is dominated with gravy and bread-based dishes. Tajine and most Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia) dishes are derivatives of oil, meat and vegetable gravies. The dish is usually served with a loaf of bread. The bread is then dipped into the gravy and then used to gather or scoop the meat and vegetables between the index, middle finger and thumb, and consumed.
In gastronomy of Minorca, it has been used since the British colonisation during the 17th century in typical Minorquian and Catalan dishes, as for example macarrons amb grevi (pasta).
Gravy made from well-done beef has been shown to contain heterocyclic amines, which are potentially carcinogenic in humans.
Gravy, and its perceived richness, have contributed to its use in several cultural contexts:
Used as a descriptive noun[who?], gravy indicates that all is well. "Don't worry, we're gravy."
The idiom gravy train, used to refer to any lucrative endeavor, but in particular such endeavors which capitalize on the success of other people.
Also used as slang for extra benefits in the idiom "everything else is gravy."
^Xim Fuster i Manel Gómez: Menorca: gastronomía y cocina. Sant Lluís. 2005. Ed. Triangle Postals. ISBN 84-8478-187-9
^Sinha R et al. (1998). "Heterocyclic amine content in beef cooked by different methods to varying degrees of doneness and gravy made from meat drippings". Food Chem Toxicol.36 (4): 279–87. doi:10.1016/S0278-6915(97)00162-2. PMID9651044.
^Ni W et al. (2008). "Quantitation of 13 heterocyclic aromatic amines in cooked beef, pork, and chicken by liquid chromatography-electrospray ionization/tandem mass spectrometry". J Agric Food Chem.56 (1): 68–78. doi:10.1021/jf072461a. PMID18069786.