What do you think when you see a mess like the one in the photo?
If you recognize that mess as the fat drippings from a smoker, then you know exactly what to do. Yes, that’s right. We’re going to eat it. To be more specific, we’re going to make smoky gravy.
Don’t waste the drippings collected in the smoker after smoking meat or sausage. Save the oil from the drip pan along with any loose bits that want to come along for the ride. No need to scrape off the burnt on stuff, there will be enough smoke flavor in the oil and bits that pour out easily.
As it is, my wife thinks there’s already too much smoke flavor, but she has a delicate stomach. This gravy is for grown men.
Eating smoked meat or sausage one day and smoked gravy for breakfast the next is definitely living large and I don’t recommend this as a steady diet if you sat on the couch the last few days, unless you are O.K. with the possibility of a larger belt line and clogged arteries.
Rule of Thumb for Thick Country Gravy
Since there is no good reason to eat thin gravy, the rule of thumb for making a thick country gravy is to use equal parts oil and flour and about 8 times that amount in milk and/or broth (1 cup = 16 tablespoons).
So, for a single serving, use one tablespoon oil, one tablespoon flour and ½ cup milk makes about ½ cup of gravy (a 1:1:8 ratio). Two servings of gravy would be made from two tablespoons oil & flour and one cup milk and a large batch would use ½ cup oil and flour and four cups of milk for about 8 servings.
Making a Roux
You can make gravy from any kind of meat fat and drippings or butter, but the fat that renders out in the smoker is loaded with the love and that same good smoke flavor that you spent hours putting into the meat.
Pour the smoky oil into a skillet or sauce pan and heat the oil on medium until warm enough to make a small amount of flour sizzle, then slowly add flour and seasonings while constantly whisking or stirring with a fork. Let the oil & flour brown to fit your personal preference.
The roux will turn from white to blond to brown to dark brown the longer you let it simmer. It only takes 3 – 5 minutes for white gravy, but do not stop cooking and stirring until all of the raw flour smell is gone. Blond roux takes about 15 – 20 minutes, brown roux takes about 30 – 35 minutes and it takes 40-45 minutes for a dark brown roux. For breakfast, 15 minutes is about all I can wait, so I usually go with a white or blond roux.
Remove the pan from the heat and add the milk. Stir like crazy, but be careful about splashing the roux or anyone in the way will get burned. Put the pan or skillet back on medium-high heat and continue stirring until the gravy bubbles and starts to thicken. When you like the way it looks, stir in additional seasonings (1 pinch each per serving) and eat.
If the gravy is too thick, add a small amount of milk or broth. If the gravy is too thin, continue to cook until it thickens. If you add extra flour to thicken, it will taste raw.
Basic Country Gravy Recipe
- Oil and flour – equal parts (1 tablespoon per serving)
- Milk (½ cup per serving)
- Salt and black pepper to taste (1 pinch per serving)
Variations of the Gravy Recipe
Most of the time, I make smoked gravy from pork drippings, but I’ve also used the drippings from a smoked elk kielbasa and from a smoked venison Andouille sausage.
Normally when smoking sausage, the smoking temperature should not be so hot that the fat renders and drips out, but I have made that mistake. The sausage got a little dry, but I made up for it by making smoky gravy.
In addition to basic seasoning with salt and pepper, I have added different combinations of spices and herb to gravy including cayenne pepper, paprika, rosemary, sage, oregano or thyme. Also consider sweating a little onion, garlic or shallot to add to the gravy.
Experiment by adding a pinch or two of your favorite seasonings. I am always interested in hearing your recipe ideas, in case I am missing out on a good idea.