If you don’t have access to the rendered fatty juices which have oozed from the roasting flesh of a recently slaughtered animal, making a decent gravy can be quite a challenge. A vegetarian gravy requires time and attention to build up a sufficient depth of flavour, so I suggest you make this in advance and/or multiply the quantities and freeze the surplus.

By the way, here’s wishing a slightly belated happy Christmas to all our reader(s).

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 – 60 minutes
Makes: 500ml (ish)
Skill level: easy


  • 1 onion – finely chopped
  • 2 carrots – finely chopped
  • 2 sticks of celery – finely chopped
  • butter – a much as you dare
  • fresh herbs such as thyme and parsley
  • 3 cloves of garlic – roughly chopped
  • 3 bay leaves
  • tomato puree – 1 tbsp
  • plain flour – 1 heaped tbsp
  • water
  • red wine – glass
  • port – slug
  • s and p

Melt the butter in a large heavy-bottomed, high-sided frying pan.

Add the onion, celery and carrots and stir.

Next add the herbs, bay leaves, garlic, tomato puree, salt and a generous twist of black pepper.

Cook over a medium heat (stirring regularly) for 20–30 minutes. You want the vegetables to be caramelised and reduced almost to a marmelade. You may have to add a little water if it looks like it might stick and burn.

Add the flour and stir.

Pour in the glass of wine and stir for a minute or two.

Next add some water (about 500ml) and stir.

Bring to a simmer and cook for another 20–30 minutes – the idea is to extract all the flavour from the vegetables.

You should now have a thick dark lush gravy.

Pass this mixture through a sieve into a bowl – squash with the back of a ladle to extract all the juice and flavour.

Drop in a few knobs of butter and stir until silky smooth.

Add a slug of port.

Taste and add more seasoning if necessary.

Either reheat or allow to cool and freeze.

Verdict: A sweet rich gravy which went perfectly with both salmon en croute and dry-brined roast turkey.

Drink: A Christmas dinner trio of fizzy, red and dessert.

Entertainment: Disappointing crackers.

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for this. I made mine in a similar way but left out the tomato puree and replace with a teaspoon of marmite for a slightly less sweet version.

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