Hamburger Gravy

Skillet Gravy

Skillet Gravy

Last night for supper, I made pasta with meat sauce. As I was draining all the grease off of the ground beef, I remembered something funny that I hadn’t thought about in many years.

When I was in college, I lived in the dorm for three years. Then my last year my dorm roommate, two other guys–brothers–and I decided to get an apartment together. The other three were basically useless at cooking, and I didn’t mind it, so I ended up cooking most of the evening meals. For lunch and breakfast, we each did our own thing, either eating on campus or putting together a sandwich at home.

I grew up on a farm, but by that time my parents had basically retired, so we no longer had any cows, but while I was growing up, we had had both milk cows and cows we raised for beef. We always had all kinds of roasts and steaks in the freezers, along with hamburger, and I had learned to cook all of them.

In the apartment, the two roommates who were brothers still lived on a farm where the family raised their own beef, so they frequently brought meat from home. We usually made the hamburger meat up into patties and froze them. Then we could easily take out the number we wanted and cook them. Even my “non-cooking” roommates could fry a hamburger.

One time, though, they asked me if I could make hamburger gravy. Growing up on the farm, I had learned to make gravy from my mother. I knew how to drain off the grease from fried chicken, brown a little flour with the tasty bits that were left from the chicken, add some milk (sometimes water if there was no milk), put in a little salt and pepper, keep stirring while it thickened, and take it off the heat at just the right time for great tasting, fried chicken gravy. I could do the same if it was fried steak or pork chops. I also knew how to make tuna gravy and chipped beef gravy by making a white sauce and then adding the tuna or chipped beef. And yes, we even did make hamburger gravy. (See recipe here.) All of these–the tuna, chipped beef, and hamburger gravies, we loaded onto a slice of bread on our plates and ate.

So I told my roommates that I could make hamburger gravy.  (See link to Hamburger Gravy Recipe below.)  But their idea was to make gravy after you fried the hamburgers–not to make gravy with hamburger meat. They said their mom didn’t drain off the grease. I was doubtful, but they were hungry for the hamburger gravy that their mom made.

I tried it. To make it work, I was sure that I would need more flour, which I tried to brown into the hot grease. There was just too much grease to make the nice little tidbits of meat morsels and browned flour. I can’t remember now exactly what it looked like, but I decided to go ahead. The moment I poured the cold milk into the rest, it all became a big, congealed glob. This glob, of course, wasn’t the gravy my roommates’ mother made.

The rest of the time we all shared an apartment, they never asked me to make hamburger gravy again.

(So the socio-linguistic and/or cooking question is: Why can you make skillet gravy, but you would never make frying pan gravy?)


Would you like to know how I make gravy to go with steak and other meats? Go here.

If you like this one, you might also like, “Puddin’ Meat–Good Food for a Cold Morning”, Hamburger Gravy Recipe, and “Coffee Milk and Hopalong Cassidy”.


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