When I say that my father was not much of a cook, my brother and sisters will accuse me of wild exaggeration. As they always do, they would bring up the matter of the “prunes and greens” that Dad tried to get us to eat one evening when we were very young. Our idea of good food then was hamburgers, hot dogs and what Mom made. We liked donuts and cinnamon rolls too, no matter where they came from.
I think that they were beet greens, but they may have been spinach. Whatever they were, they did not go with prunes. My father must have agreed with us, as I do not remember his “laying down the law” about “eating what was set before you” and “thinking about the starving children in China.” I don’t remember what we ate that night, but I’m sure that it was something other than the tiny taste of plump prunes and soggy sweetish greenish stuff that we had to try.
Actually, my father could open a can with the best of men, slice bread and make coffee. He could also peel and boil potatoes, chop vegetables and stir soups on schedule.
And he knew how to make milk gravy. I must have been ten or eleven years old, and I can still remember his coaching:
“Get the grease hot–not too hot, add the flour, salt and pepper. Stir until it’s smooth and bubbling. Let it bubble a minute, but don’t let it brown very much. That’s good! Now add the milk and stir. Don’t dribble it in! Dump it all in at once. Then stir and keep stirring. When the gravy starts bubbling and gets smooth, turn the heat down and cook it for two or three minutes. Turn off the heat and you’re done. Now you know how to make milk gravy.”
It really is that easy. And depending on the kind of shortening you use, you can make a gravy that goes great with chicken or pork chops for lunch or dinner or with fresh biscuits for what may well become your own famous breakfast biscuits and gravy.
Here’s the recipe for Dad’s milk gravy:
3 T grease
3 T flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. white pepper
2 cups milk
If you are having fried or oven-fried chicken or pork chops, remove the meat when it is done and reduce the amount of fat in the pan to three tablespoons or if necessary, add some butter or shortening to bring the amount of fat up to three tablespoons. Add the flour, salt and pepper to the pan and scrape any meat bits into the gravy as you cook it over moderate heat. You can do the same if you are making biscuits and gravy to go with bacon or sausage. Taste and adjust the seasoning and pour the gravy into a serving bowl or gravy boat.
Making milk gravy really is child’s play, and your family and guests will thank you.
NOTES: If you save your bacon grease, you can make a flavorful gravy to go with almost any meal when boiled or mashed potatoes are on the menu. If you don’t have bacon grease, use butter or shortening. If the gravy is thicker than you prefer, stir in more milk a tablespoon at a time until you achieve the consistency you want. You can substitute ordinary finely ground black pepper if you don’t have white pepper on hand, but you may see some black flecks in the gravy; it will taste fine.