How To Make Grain-Free Gravy Out Of Fat, Liquid & Magic

Modernist Cuisine introduced the idea of a “constructed cream” – a cream-like sauce that has never passed through a teat [if you’re into vivid imagery].  Dairy creams, including milk, are actually emulsions.  Milk, for example, is composed of tiny droplets of fat suspended in water and stabilized by a protein called casein. So, if milk and cream are emulsions of fat and water, why not emulsify together any arbitrary fat and water to produce a sauce with the thickness and mouthfeel of cream? Boom: constructed creams are born.

That one insight has incredible repercussions, and the Modernist Cuisine at Home recipe for Home Jus Gras is a great example. In a traditional gravy, you start with very flavorful roasting juices or pan drippings.  The problem is that pan drippings are quite thin, so we typically thicken them by adding flour or cornstarch.  This approach has “compromise” written all over it: starches are flavor inhibitors.  The Modernist Cuisine approach is to combine those roasting juices with flavorful liquid fat instead, and to swap flour and cornstarch for xanthan gum, which can be used in extremely small quantities and doesn’t dull the flavor of the finished sauce.

The full recipe – which is amazing! – is in Modernist Cuisine at Home.  However, if you’re short on time, we’ve developed an even simpler version using store-bough fat and stock.  This Simplified Jus Gras recipe is in the Modernist Cuisine recipe library.  I hope that this recipe is also a jumping-off point for you to experiment with your own flavors.  Last year, I used this technique with rendered fat from a pre-Christmas goose and some spiced apple cider to produce a grain-free gravy that jived with my wife’s dietary restrictions.  But, there’s no reason you couldn’t use bacon grease and whiskey, if you were so-inclined.

For the rest of the MDRN KTCHN series, check out

Prime Rib with Horseradish Cream Sauce

prime rib 
Majestic, isn’t it?  For many households, prime rib is a once-a-year tradition.  After all, there’s something about the Flintstones-sized scale of this chunk of cow that begs for a special occasion.  However, preparing this roast couldn’t be simpler.

Makes: 6 Flinstones cars flip
Total kitchen time: about 3 hours

Shopping list:

  • 1 6-lb. bone-in rib roast
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  1. Do ahead: season the roast with coarse salt and pepper and place in a roasting pan.  Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate, 1-3 days.
  2. Let the roast come to room temperature for about 2 hours before cooking.  Preheat the oven to 425°F and adjust the rack so your roast will be in the middle of the oven.
  3. Bake the roast, bone side down, for about 20 minutes or until a crust has started to form.  Flip the roast over and reduce the heat to 300°F.  Bake until the internal temperature reaches about 125°F, about 2 hours, basting often with the pan drippings. If you have a probe thermometer, this is a great time to use it.  If you have an instant-read or meat thermometer, that will work too.  You want to carefully ensure that the roast doesn’t cook too quickly, or the meat will be dry and tough.  If necessary, reduce the oven temperature so that you glide into 125° as slowly as possible.
  4. Remove the roast and let it rest at least 30 minutes before carving.  If you skip this step, you’ve just wasted all the hard-earned money you spend on this glorious slab of beef. 

Horseradish Cream Sauce:

  • 1 1/2 tbsp. horseradish root, grated
  • 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. butter
  • 1/4 cup diced white onion
  • 2 cloves roasted garlic
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. In a small saucepan, combine the butter and flour over meduim-high heat.  Add the onion and sweat about 5 minutes.  Add the roasted garlic and stir to combine.
  2. Add the horseradish root (as much or as little as you like) and cream.  Bring the sauce to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer.
  3. Using an immersion blender, food processor or regular blender, puree the sauce until smooth.  Season with salt and pepper (and more horseradish root!!!)