What gravy goes with ham? Any kind you like! Some people prefer the ham's natural gravy, while others like a sweeter gravy to play off ham's saltiness. Making gravy for ham is like making gravy for any other meat. Ham doesn't release the amount of fat and drippings that beef does, but it's often basted with a syrup or other mixtures that collect additional flavors as they roll down the ham, simmering on the bottom of the pan just waiting for you to turn them into delicious gravy.
Making Basic Gravy for Ham
Gravy for ham can be any kind of liquid you thicken so it's more substantial than just using its own juices, yet not so thick that it clumps when you ladle it. The gravy should swirl into the ladle and then out again to beautifully coat your ham, potatoes and any other food.
Have you ever poured flour and water into a pan of hot liquid and had it turn to dreaded lumps? The secret to making lump-free gravy is adding a bit of the hot liquid from the pan to the flour and water mixture before adding the mixture to the entire pan of liquid.
Making Lump-Free Gravy
- Remove the cooked ham from the pan to a cutting board. Cover loosely with foil.
- Add one cup of water to the pan and stir, scraping the pan to loosen the drippings.
- Pour the liquid with drippings into a medium-sized pot and heat over medium heat.
- Combine 2 tablespoons of flour with 1 tablespoon of water in a small bowl and stir into a paste. Stir in more water if needed, 1 teaspoon at a time, until the paste is smooth but still thick.
- Once the liquid in the pot boils, turn the heat to simmer. One at a time, add 2 tablespoons of the hot liquid to the smooth flour mixture and stir until the liquid is fully mixed in.
- Slowly pour the warm flour mixture into the pot of hot liquid.
- Stir immediately until it has combined with the hot liquid.
- Turn the heat to medium-high and bring the gravy to a rolling boil, stirring occasionally for two minutes until the gravy has thickened to serving consistency. Simmer on low until ready to use and strain before serving.
Gravy vs. Pan Gravy
Many people think that when you make gravy on the stovetop in the pan in which you cooked your meat, it's called pan gravy. Actually, there's an important difference between the two. Gravy is thickened. Pan gravy is not thickened and is just water and the pan juices heated and stirred.
Making Sweet Gravy for Ham
Make a paste using 1/2 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of water and 1 tablespoon of mustard (or more if you like). The spicier your mustard, the spicier the gravy will be.
Apply the paste all over the ham's surface before putting it in the oven. It will drip off along with the ham's natural juices as it bakes. About every 20 minutes, baste the ham with the sugar-mustard drippings. When the ham is done, make gravy from the juices or just add water and serve it as pan gravy.
Pineapple juice makes another tasty gravy. Drain the juice from one 15-ounce can of pineapple chunks. Set the chunks aside. Pour the pineapple juice over the ham and baste it with the pan juices several times as the ham bakes. Add the pineapple chunks and 1/2 cup of water to the pan for the last 10 minutes the ham bakes and serve it as pan gravy.
Understanding Sauce vs. Gravy
People often wonder what's the difference between sauce and gravy. Basically, sauce is made more quickly from any ingredients you choose, while gravy is made from meat juices that have simmered in the pan for hours. Italian cooks sometimes define the terms differently depending on how the words were translated into English and handed down through the family.