The secret to making good gravy isn't hard, but there are a few rules that must be observed.

Proper gravy is a mixture of water and fats, with various other items acting as flavourings. This is very important to realise, as gravy made from water alone will never have that all-important wow factor. If you're not vegetarian this should be easy: use the juices that have flowed from your joint of meat to provide the fats for the gravy. If you don't have any meat, use the fat in which you roasted your potatoes or from any of the rest of your cooking. At a push you will have to make do with previously unused fat: in this case a hard fat such as lard is vastly superior to an oil.

Slowly heat the fat, along with whatever bits and pieces you have around: unidentifiable things that have come off your chicken, maybe throw in an onion, whatever. Add water, slowly. Don't wait until the fat is boiling before you add water to it: this is a very bad idea. Keep stirring constantly, the oil and water will be trying to separate but you mustn't let them. As the juices start to boil add your stock cubes, gravy granules or if you want to be more traditional, cornflour.

Keep stirring as the gravy thickens up: proper gravy should be of a consistency not much less viscous than custard. There are a few abnormal people who like their gravy to be runny: they are not to be trusted under usual circumstances but can be catered for by putting their gravy in a separate container and adding boiling water from a kettle.

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