Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Tomato Gravy


If you know anything about Southern cooking, you can imagine that I grew up eating lots of fried meat with rice and milk gravy.  My favorite is probably battered and fried cubed steak with rice and gravy.  As a tasty variation, my mom occasionally made milk gravy with tomatoes.  Tomato gravy is certainly good with some type of fried meat, such as chicken, pork chops, or cubed steak.  I suppose you could eat it over rice or potatoes, but we usually had tomato gravy over grits or biscuits.  We’d often have “breakfast for supper”.  Mom usually fried some breakfast meat such as sausage or country ham, and then used the dripping to make tomato gravy, a variation of her milk gravy. 

Tomato Gravy Ingredients

Cooking oil, or pan drippings from fried meat

3 to 5 heaping Tbsp plain flour

2 to 4 fresh tomatoes, peeled and diced, or 1 can diced tomatoes with juice

1 can evaporated milk (this gives the gravy richness)

16 oz milk, whole or 2%

Water as needed

Salt and pepper to taste


1- Gravy is best when you start with “pan drippings” in a hot skillet.  For example, the oil that you would fry breaded chicken or steak in, which would have some browned flour and pieces of the breading.  If you don’t have pan drippings, use vegetable cooking oil, enough to cover the bottom of the pan about ¼ inch deep. 

2- Pan and oil should be hot, and stove burner on medium high.  Whisk in flour 1 heaping Tbsp at a time.  I use about 4 Tbsp, but it does seem to vary according to location.  When I lived in IL, it seemed to take less flour.  I’m assuming this has to do with altitude, humidity or some other atmospheric factor.  Make sure you use ample flour.  You can always add more liquid if the gravy is too thick. 

3- The flour should be completely blended in liquid oil, and not be a thick paste.  Heat until flour is browned but not burned, stirring constantly. 

4- Add tomatoes.  They should sizzle.  Cook the tomatoes on medium high for a minute or 2.  You will probably have a paste consistency at this point. 

5- Reduce heat.  Add half of the milk quickly, stirring vigorously.  It will thicken up quickly.  Blend in the remaining milk. 


6- Add additional milk or water as needed to have a nice consistency. 

7- Season to taste with salt and pepper. 

8- Simmer on low for 5 to 10 minutes. 

9- Serve over grits or biscuits.  My mom is partial to refrigerated Hungry Jack Flaky Buttermilk Biscuits.  In case you’re not experienced in the art of cooking grits, I’ll provided my method and tips in another post. 

10- If you have leftover gravy, be warned that it will be thicker after sitting &/or refrigeration.  Sometimes I whisk in extra liquid before refrigerating. 


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