Why You Should Avoid Using Ham And Beef Pan Drippings For Gravy

A simple sauce of meat drippings, flour, and milk or cream, gravy is the ultimate savory topping for a plethora of dishes. Whether you prefer creamy country gravy over brown gravy or like it with toast rather than biscuits, one thing remains true — you should leave the ham and beef out of it.

Gravy's best quality is its umami-rich, meaty taste, and while both ham and beef meet these qualifications, they're not the best meats for the job. This is because ham is far too salty to make gravy given the way that it's typically treated and cured. While the meat's smoky, sweet flavor would be come through in the gravy, the flavor would be overwhelmed by salt. Beef, on the other hand, while it has a robust flavor, doesn't translate well to gravy because of how fatty it is. Rendered beef fat doesn't always taste as great, and using it for gravy may produce something that is a bit off. Instead, opt for different types of meat pan drippings to make your gravy.

Use these meats the next time you make gravy

Although ham can be too salty, bacon is the perfect pork cut for the job, particularly if you find something low in salt, as it will give you better control over the seasoning when you bust out your gravy pot. Even a typical package of the sliced belly meat has about a third of the sodium content as ham, so you'll get that slightly sweet porky flavor without all the saltiness. To amp up the sweetness even further, add maple syrup to bacon gravy for a savory-sweet take on biscuits.

Sticking to poultry is often the safest bet for gravy as its lighter taste makes it ideal for white and brown alike. The classic gravy flavor spruces up mashed potatoes, chicken fried steak, and shepherd's pie with its decadently rich flavor. And for the times you're doing big birds like turkey, the drippings are usually essential for enjoying the leaner (maybe even dry) slices of breast. The earthy flavor from the dark meat of the bird will taste incredible in the thick, creamy sauce. So save the juices after making turkey for Thanksgiving and eat it with leftovers for breakfast the next morning or inside a turkey sandwich with a slathering of cranberry sauce.