Posted by: A Part of the Solution | November 16, 2010

Gravy for the Masses

I become distressed when I see people sitting at the ‘groaning board’ of a holiday table, but they’re not able to put much on their plates due to their dietary restrictions. One year, I watched my older brother (a vegetarian since 1979) passing the gravy boat with some sadness: it was giblet gravy, my aunt makes a good one. “No more,” I vowed.

Nowadays, most of my family prefer the gravy I developed to feed one and all to the more traditional pan gravy or giblet gravy served at holiday tables everywhere. Undoubtedly, you too will come to love it (and the extraordinary compliments one receives when people taste it). It’s not too difficult to make, and it can be made ahead and reheated at service.

Mushroom Gravy

3 TBSP oil, divided

3 fat shallots, peeled and chopped small

8 oz button mushrooms, chopped small


1/2 cup red wine

3 1/2 TBSP flour

2 1/2 cups vegetable stock

freshly ground black pepper and freshly grated nutmeg to taste

1 tsp minced fresh thyme

2 TBSP red or brown miso

In a heavy bottomed non-reactive pan (like enameled cast iron or stainless steel or anodized aluminum) heat one tablespoon of the oil over moderate heat. Add the shallots and let them begin to become translucent–about three to five minutes. Add the mushrooms and a little salt (the salt causes them to release their water faster and become more concentrated in flavor and texture more quickly). Reduce the heat slightly and stir them occasionally. When they stop releasing water, add the red wine and let it bubble down to nearly dry. Scrape the contents of the pan into a bowl and set it aside.

Put the veg stock in a small sauce pan and heat it through. Heat the remaining oil in the pan used for the mushrooms and shallots. When it’s hot, add the flour and whisk hard so that it forms a smooth, creamy roux. Shortly (still whisking) the roux will become grainy looking and slightly beige. Now (whisking even more) add the veg stock in a steady stream. If you don’t feel confident about having gotten all the lumps out, run the mixture through your blender, or push it through a fine-mesh strainer. Continue to stir until the mixture thickens. Add back in the shallot-mushroom goodness. Now add the pepper, nutmeg and fresh thyme. When it tastes done, turn off the heat and stir in the miso until it is completely dissolved.

Correct the seasoning. If you’re serving it later, you may loosen it up with a tablespoon or two of veg stock or red wine when you reheat it. This is just so good you won’t believe it until you’ve tried it. Don’t worry, you can thank me later….



  1. You’re my hero.

    • Awwww!

  2. I think my mom deserves a little nod here. Remember “meat taste gravy” from the old days? : )

    • Yeah I do. It’s what inspired me to try making a good vegetarian gravy in the first place.

      • It was very similar to your gravy. The only difference was that she used onion instead of shallot and she usually thickened with cornstarch. I can see how flour would be better but since we have gluten-free people, I have to use the cornstarch. She also swirled in some butter at the end for flavor and gloss. I’m glad you reminded me. I will make this (or some version of it) for Stella for Thanksgiving.

      • It really is remarkably good, no matter how it’s thickened. I know meat eaters who prefer it to any other possible gravy for their potatoes on the day of days. And yeah, making roux is something I learned from my mom and do fairly automatically. But there’s no reason why the cornstarch wouldn’t do just as nice a job–provided you get that swirl of butter or oil at the end to give it some of that toothsome richness we all deserve.

  3. I’m so excited about this! I’m having a totally veg Thanksgiving and I was wondering about gravy for the stuffing. Excellent! Thanks!

    • It’s just as good as it sounds like it might be. Make extra, since it goes so well with leftovers!

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