Gravy making has been my nemesis for years innumerate. Ever since I realised gravy granules weren’t the only way let alone best way to make it, I’ve poured many a too bitter, flavourless or too salty down the sink and had to resort to a packet mix just to ensure my family don’t have to stomach the disappointment of a roast dinner without gravy. No matter how perfect your roast potatoes, beautifully glazed your carrots or juicy and plumptious your turkey, if you don’t have a plentiful supply of good gravy, it’s game over. It would need quite a special cup of tea to make up for a dry roast to a Brit and with Christmas looming, we can’t take the chance of the crestfallen faces of our loved ones come Christmas morn. Thankfully, my make-ahead Instant Pot Chicken Gravy may well be the answer to your gravy-making prayers!
As Christmas Dinner is the ultimate of all roast dinners, the stakes are higher than usual. Last year I wrote about how I get ahead, making ahead as much as possible in the months before the big day and freezing or preserving what I can. Now I have my Instant Pot I will be updating my posts with how to utilise it to make at least the edible part of the festive season as stress free as possible and we’re starting with my recipe for Chicken Gravy. Now, I do realise the most common poultry of the season is turkey but there using well-browned chicken wings gives bags of flavour and will pair equally well with either bird.
The great thing about chicken wings is that they thicken the gravy if you bash them up before browning them to let the gelatine out of the bones. They are really economical so you can buy free range ones without breaking the bank and anyway, the free range ones tend to have bags more flavour. It’s very much worth giving them the time they need to brown before you add all the other ingredients to replicate the sticky, caramelised bits the Maillard reaction gives you when you make gravy in the pan the poultry was roasted in. I add plenty of fresh sage, rosemary and thyme to the stock plus a little ground allspice I think bring all the flavours together. Adding a splosh of Marsala bumps up the richness and adds a touch of sweetness that I think it the pièce de la résistance – I can’t cook in the winter months without a bottle of Marsala standing next to the hob!
If you want to there is nothing stopping you making this gravy on Christmas Day, but mine is already in a sturdy food bag in the deep freeze next to bags of braised red cabbage, disposable foil dishes of extra stuffing and even a bag of ten minute cranberry sauce ready to go on the Big Day itself. As an extra bonus, this gravy is naturally gluten-free as I use cornflour to thicken it. Just go easy and only add as much as you need to get the finished article to your idea of a perfect gravy. And do let me know what other seasonings you’ll be adding – I bet there are some Worcestershire sauce or celery salt fans out there itching to put some in!
- 500 g chicken wings
- 1 large onion quartered
- 2 medium carrots cut into chunks
- 3 cloves of garlic smashed up
- 3 bay leaves
- 2 stems of rosemary about 6 inches long each
- 2 sprigs of fresh sage
- 2 stems of fresh thyme about 6 inches long
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp cracked black pepper
- 1 tsp ground allspice
- 4 level tbsp cornflour
- 2 tbsp Marsala wine
- Extra seasoning as needed
Start by either using a meat cleaver to cut the wings into 2 or 3 chunks, exposing the bone or bash up in a large mortar and pestle (or failing that, just use the end of a wooden rolling pin!) and cut through the flesh in a few places with a sharp knife. You're trying to expose the bone marrow to help thicken the gravy up by way of it's naturally occurring gelatine.
Brown the chicken wings well on Sauté in the Instant Pot then stir in all the remaining ingredients down to the allspice.
Add 1 litre of cold water, cancel the Sauté mode and place the lid on, set to Sealing. Set on Manual for 45 minutes and let the pressure come down naturally.
Pour the stock through a fine sieve into a large jug or bowl and clean out the Instant Pot. Put it back in and again set to Sauté.
Mix the cornflour with 4 tbsp of cold water in a small jug and whisk in a little of the hot stock making sure there on no lumps.
When the stock starts to bubble in the Instant Pot, pour in enough of the cornflour mixture to thicken to your desired texture. Whisk constantly and add it slowly as the gravy will start to thicken quickly.
Add the Marsala wine then taste the gravy for seasoning - add further salt and pepper as liked.
You can keep the gravy on Keep Warm until needed if using straight away or cool to room temperature then pour into thick plastic food safe bags and freeze (remembering to label it!) until needed. Thaw overnight in the fridge and if making a roast chicken or turkey, add any pan juices to the gravy and reheat it thoroughly until piping hot in a saucepan.
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