The art of preparing savory gravies and sauces is more important in connection with the serving of the cheaper meats than in connection with the cooking of the more expensive.
There are a few general principles underlying the making of all sauces or gravies whether the liquid used is water, milk, stock, tomato juice, or some combination of these. For ordinary gravy 2 level tablespoonfuls of flour or 1 1/2 tablespoonfuls of cornstarch or arrow root is sufficient to thicken a cupful of liquid. This is true excepting when the flour is browned. In this case about one-half tablespoonful more should be allowed, for browned flour does not thicken so well as unbrowned. The fat used may be butter or the drippings from the meat, the allowance being 2 tablespoonfuls to a cup of liquid.
The easiest way to mix the ingredients is to heat the fat, add the flour, and cook until the mixture ceases to bubble, and then to add the liquid. This is a quick method and by using it there is little danger of getting a lumpy gravy. Many persons, however, think it is not a wholesome method and prefer the old-fashioned one of thickening the gravy by means of flour mixed with a little cold water. The latter method is, of course, not practicable for brown gravies.
The good flavor of browned flour is often overlooked. If flour is cooked in fat until it is a dark brown color a distinctive and very agreeable flavor is obtained. This flavor combines very well with that of currant jelly, and a little jelly added to a brown gravy is a great improvement. The flavor of this should not be combined with that of onions or other highly flavored vegetables.