Unless something happens and I jump on the gravy bandwagon, this will be the only blog I ever post about gravy. The only gravy I serve comes from a jar at Thanksgiving, a packaged mix when I fix chicken fried steak or is created by an entree as it cooks.
My mom was a typical Southern cook and made gravy every available opportunity. There was turkey gravy at Thanksgiving, giblet gravy with boiled eggs at Easter, redeye gravy, sausage gravy and brown gravy, to name a few. She also made dried beef gravy which has the distinction of being the only gravy I would eat as a child and the only gravy I actually cook as an adult.
If you've never had dried beef, you've probably seen it at the grocery store. It's usually sold in glass jars and is typically found in the canned meat aisle.
Dried beef, also known as chipped beef, is very thin slices of smoked, salted and dried beef. I don't care for dried beef in other dishes, but I absolutely love it in gravy. Technically, though, dried beef gravy isn't a gravy, but a sauce.
Gravy is made from the fat and juices -- drippings -- that remain after cooking meat and is always served hot. The sauce for dried beef gravy starts with a roux. Roux is the French term for cooking a mixture of fat and flour over low heat. A liquid is added and the mixture is cooked until it reaches the desired thickness. Unlike gravy, sauces can be served hot or cold. There are many different kinds of sauces, but dried beef gravy is actually a white sauce which is known as Bechamel.
There are two things to remember when you make gravy. One, make sure you have all the ingredients ready to use. Gravy has to be stirred constantly so you won't have time to measure things after you start cooking. Two, cook gravy over medium-low to low heat to keep the mixture from scorching.
Dried beef gravy only uses five ingredients so there's very little prep work required. The pieces of dried beef are rolled together and need to be cut into small pieces. The easiest -- and quickest -- way to do this is unroll the beef and cut them all at once with a pair of kitchen shears.