A decent, rich gravy is the sauce that brings together savoury elements in a dish – think roast dinners, meat pies, sausage and mash. Scientists from the Royal Society of Chemistry have actually come up with a scientific formula for making the perfect gravy.

Their experiments have proved the best gravy should be made from meat juices, vegetable water – and a dash of soy sauce to bring out the umami, or meaty taste.

Here’s the Society’s recipe:

Cook a joint of meat on a bed of vegetables such as halved onion, carrots and celery so that the meat juices trickle on to them and caramelise in the oven. This adds some sweetness.

When cooked, remove the meat and vegetables. Sprinkle a spoonful or two of plain flour over the juices in the roasting tin and stir to form a paste. Gradually add the hot water from boiled vegetables (ideally cabbage water), to thin the gravy to the required consistency, making sure all the sticky deposits on the bottom of the tin are scraped up and dissolved. Then the clever bit, add a dash of Kikkoman soy sauce and pepper to taste. Leave out the gravy browning, although you could add a dash of red wine for extra colour. Simmer to reduce the gravy, stirring occasionally until it is the right consistency.

We also have some tips of our own:

  • skim off any excess fat after roasting the meat
  • use giblets to make stock if you have them
  • if you prefer a sweeter taste you could add some redcurrant jelly
  • You can sieve the gravy if you prefer a smooth finish, or mash in the roasted veg from the pan if you like a rustic texture
  • If you are not cooking a joint of meat for a roast, you can roast off some cheap chicken wings instead for a great taste

Practise your gravy-making techniques in these recipes: