Christmas gravy – the get-ahead recipe



The last thing anyone wants on Christmas Day is the stress of trying to make a lump-free gravy whilst juggling the other components of a Christmas Dinner. This recipe is based on a Jamie Oliver recipe that I saw once on telly. As usual, I took the basic idea and added a few bits and pieces of my own. The basic idea of this little recipe is that you use Chicken legs or wings to make your gravy for Christmas, while you have a spare moment, and then freeze it until you need it. It’s a great feeling having your gravy stashed away, ready to be just reheated before serving up the biggest dinner of the year!

Here’s my most recent effort, and it smells and tastes delicious! It will be completely different from last year, as the flavours really depend what’s lying around my kitchen on the day. It’s a perfect recipe for using up those sad-looking onions that have been there just a little too long, I threw in a chilli and half a Leek today. Even Root vegetable peelings have flavour and nutrients, so don’t ignore them!

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Ready for the oven!


  • A roasting tin
  • A deep saucepan – I use my big stock pot.
  • A wooden spoon
  • A potato masher
  • a sturdy sieve
  • A medium/large bowl
  • a freezer box, to store your precious gravy.

INGREDIENTS: This will make enough for up to 8 people who love gravy, or about 12 normal people 😉

  • 6-8 chicken thighs, legs or wings (this year, I used a turkey drumstick that I found in the supermarket)
  • 2-3 small onions, unpeeled and cut into quarters.Christmas Gravy (1)
  • a lemon and/or orange, cut into quarters.
  • any root vegetables you have lying about, peeled – or washed if not – and cut into batons
  • a handful of fresh herbs – I had Bay, Thyme and Rosemary in the garden, so that’s what we got.
  • a handful of garlic cloves, smashed, unpeeled
  • Rapeseed oil, to drizzle
  • good splash of red or white wine
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • Some chicken stock – about 300mls (I used Knorr ‘Stockpots’ – but of course you can use fresh, or some that you may have in the freezer)
  • a dessertspoon of plain flour, or gravy thickening.


  • Heat the oven to 170º Fan or equivalent.
  • Drizzle a little oil over the base of the roasting tin. Or line it with baking parchment.
  • Season the meat with salt and black pepper, then place the chicken pieces on the tray, skin side up
  • Fit in all the onion, fruit, veggies and garlic alongside meat pieces, keeping the whole thing in one layer.
  • Lastly, take a wander around the garden and see what’s there – I got Bay, Rosemary and Oregano today, and I added dried Thyme from the cupboard – tuck in your herbs, then give it all a good drizzle of oil again.
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You’ll also see a green chilli, some garlic and half a Leek in this picture.

  • Roast for about an hour, checking once or twice, and moving things around to prevent them sticking.
  • The skin on the chicken should be crisp, and the onions cooked. There will be some liquid in the tin at this stage.
  • Transfer the contents to your saucepan, scrapping out all the lovely sticky bits.
  • Sprinkle over the flour/gravy thickening and stir in well with a wooden spoon.
  • Add the wine and the stock.

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  • Reduce the heat to a gentle simmer, cover and leave for about 30 minutes
  • Remove the pan from the heat and place on a heat-proof surface.
  • Mash the contents of the pan well to squeeze out every last bit of flavour. My Turkey had completely fallen apart at this stage, so it was really just a matter of stirring it around.
  • Transfer the contents to the sieve or colander and allow it to drain into the bowl; then, using the masher again, press down firmly to get as much liquid out as possible.

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  • Sadly, you have to discard the stuff left in the sieve – it you carefully take all the bones out, you could make an oul dog or cat very happy!
  • Pour the gravy into a pot and taste it. We had some of ours with dinner that evening – purely in the cause of research, obviously 😉 See NOTES

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  • Transfer it all to a freezer container, cool, label and freeze until Christmas Eve.
  • Defrost it in the fridge overnight. See NOTES


I leave my gravy rather thick at this stage for a couple of reasons –

  • Firstly, you may add some meat or vegetable juices on the day, which will dilute it for you.
  • Secondly – a thicker gravy takes up less room in my already over-burdened freezer!
  • May I please confess here and now to using Mr Bisto’s powder as a thickening? I do it because a) it’s a family tradition, and b) it gives the gravy a really nice colour! If you don’t mind pale gravy, just use a dessertspoon of plain flour as thickening.

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  • Don’t add any salt when you’re making the gravy, check it just before you serve it. The stock may be quite salty itself, so better not over-season at an early stage.
  • Don’t forget to remove the gravy from the freezer on Christmas Eve!
  • However, if you do, – oh yes, of course I’ve forgotten to defrost it too- don’t panic – hold the container upside down under a warm tap, until you feel that the gravy can be easily removed from its container. Then pop the block of gravy into a saucepan with a little cold water and heat gently until it melts for you. I tend to speed up this process a little by breaking up the icy centre as the outside melts.
  • I have an idea that Jamie’s recipe added some redcurrant jelly to his gravy. I did this one year and felt that the gravy was too sweet, but of course it’s entirely up to you.
  • The original reason that I added orange to the roasting tin was that Mr Saturday Night had been making his Christmas pudding, had zested an orange and lemon as part of the recipe, so I thought I might as well use them up – the Orange particularly, added a lovely festive note, so now I always add an orange to the gravy mixture.
  • Here’s the link to Mr SN’s pudding by the way –

I started writing down recipes in an old copybook when I was about 16. With 6 children at home, my Mother was always glad of a hand in the kitchen, and really allowed us to experiment - as long as we washed up afterwards, and left the kitchen immaculate! Having a tidy kitchen has followed me through my life, as has the habit of writing down my favourite recipes; except that these days I write them for my website, and add photographs when I can. The website really started when it occurred to me that my daughter might like to have these recipes when I've forgotten them. In my early days of cooking for family and friends, I used to phone my Mum all the time to ask her for the recipe for some of our favourite family dinners. She rarely had a recipe to hand - I think, like me, she made a lot of it up as she went along.. So welcome to Eating for Ireland - these are the recipes that my friends and family having been eating these past 40 years.. yes, I truly am ancient! They are tried and tested, and have worked for me for all that time - I have updated them as new ingredients became available - I really hope you'll find something that you can make into a family favourite of your own. You don't have to tell anyone where you found these great new dishes that you're serving up - it can be our little secret, but I'd really love it if you could give me a sneaky 'follow' on Facebook and Instagram.. So off you go - have a good rummage around, you're bound to find something new! My sincere thanks to all of you who have found a recipe that you liked and dropped me a line to tell me - I really do love to hear from you! Happy Cooking! Becks xx

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