Oh no! Your perfect meal is almost ready, but your gravy is runny! What to do? The first thing you should do is take a deep breath and relax. This is a problem with an easy remedy. Gravy can become runny for a couple of different reasons. The most common reason is that you either didn’t use enough thickener for the amount of liquid that you have or the thickener that you used wasn’t thick enough. If you are using a left-over gravy, sometimes it will break down during re-heating causing the gravy to become runny.
The solution to any of the above stated problems is essentially the same. You will need to mix up a thickening agent and add it to the gravy. The type of agent that you use depends on both your personal taste and the type of gravy that you are trying to thicken. For a milk-based gravy you will need to use flour to thicken it because any other method will not result in the look and texture that is desirable for a milk-based gravy. For meat-based gravies (beef, chicken, turkey, etc) you may use either flour or cornstarch. Some people prefer the taste and home-style appearance of gravies thickened with flour, while others prefer the texture and clearer appearance of gravies thickened with cornstarch.
To thicken with flour: Heat the runny gravy to a low simmer. In a small bowl or cup, whisk together 2 tablespoons of flour and 1/4 cup of cold water for every cup of gravy that you have. Whisk until there are no lumps. If there are lumps in your thickening agent, there will be lumps in your gravy. Gradually whisk this mixture into your simmering gravy. Stir constantly for approximately one minute, or until the gravy thickens.
To thicken with cornstarch: Again, heat the runny gravy to a low simmer. In a small bowl or cup, stir together one tablespoon of corstarch and one tablespoon of water for every cup of gravy. Stir this into the simmering gravy. This gravy will thicken very quickly. Simmer for about a minute until the “starchy” taste disappears, but do not cook for too long or the excess heat will cause the gravy to thin out again.
With both of these methods, it is important to stir the thickening agent into water before adding it to the gravy. If you attempt to add the thickener to the gravy without whisking it into water first, the fat particles in the gravy will adhere to the flour or cornstarch and result in lumps that cannot be smoothed out and the gravy will still be thin. If you find that the gravy becomes too thick, you can gradually stir in a small amount of broth or water until the gravy reaches the desired consistency. Bon Apetit!