The Easy Way To Enhance The Flavor Of Jarred Gravy

Preparing a feast of epic proportions can be time-consuming, especially if you're making everything from scratch. Using store-bought stand-ins for sides like gravy can be a great way to save time and a world of stress. However, while jars (along with cans and dry mixes) of pre-made gravy can offer convenience, they often compromise flavor in the process. To avoid serving a bland sauce, there's an easy way to enhance taste. So, get your gravy boat ready to pour on the flavor.

The building blocks of gravy are simple: leftover drippings from a roast, stock, and flour. After crafting a roux to create the thick and velvety texture characteristic of gravy, The Washington Post recommends stirring in stock and drippings. But, most good gravy recipes don't stop there. In fact, homemade gravies often amp up complexity by working with aromatics or infusing whole herbs to heighten flavor. 

When it comes to jarred gravy, many of the same principles can be applied — simmer the pre-made sauce with a splash of pan drippings and don't forget about the herbs. But if you really want to revamp jarred gravy, you'll need to think outside of the box.

Boost flavor with umami-rich ingredients

Running short on time and don't want to risk a gravy disaster? Reach for jarred gravy — just don't serve it to guests as is. Real Simple recommends jazzing up your store-bought sauce by adding in umami-rich ingredients like porcini mushrooms or truffle shavings, tangy black garlic, or even bits of bacon or pieces of prosciutto. You could even add tomato paste, soy sauce, or yeast extract, according to Our Everyday Life.

But why is umami so important? Described as the fifth taste, Forbes explains that its savory profile is responsible for making food taste better by promoting salivary secretion and stimulating appetite. That said, because umami comes from glutamates along with a group of chemicals called ribonucleotides, The Guardian reports that combining other umami-laden ingredients can create an enormous depth of flavor. If a jarred gravy already has some subtle notes of meaty stock, infusing other savory ingredients can totally transform the sauce.

However, it's important not to overdo it. According to MyRecipes, it's best to add small amounts of these mouthwatering ingredients to the gravy and let them simmer before adding more. Remember to taste as you go and stop once you've reached the right amount of richness, as too much umami can overpower the gravy and what it's being served with.