After you have cooked your meat or bird, those lovely drippings just cry out to be made into gravy. Regular gravy is usually loaded both with fat and salt; a nutritional disaster. This really isn't necessary. An acceptable gravy can be made without nearly as much of the bad stuff.
First, if the meat will be fried or sautéed, don't hesitate to use a small amount of added olive or other healthier oil. Since you will drain the meat well after it is cooked, the oil actually leaches out some of the animal fat and cholesterol, which will be discarded.
Drain off all the visible fats, retaining all the browned drippings. For a moderate amount of gravy, (Note #2) place (or retain) about 1 tablespoon of the meat fat in a heavy pan or large skillet. Add about 1 tablespoon of flour. Mix well and place over medium heat, stirring until the flour is golden or light brown. Do not over-brown. This browning of the flour gives gravy much of its characteristic and satisfying taste.
Meanwhile (unless you are using the skillet in which the meat was cooked), deglaze the drippings by adding a little water to the pan and heating and scraping until they are dissolved.
When the flour is toasted, remove from the heat and let it cool a little. Have milk (or water) at hand. Add the deglazed drippings all at once, stirring to prevent lumping. Add milk (or water) to make about the amount of gravy you want. Return to fire and cook, stirring constantly until gravy comes to a boil.
Continue to cook, stirring frequently, while you mix some flour (Note #3) (about 2 to 3 tablespoons flour for a normal family size batch of gravy) into a half cup or so of liquid, using a hand blender, blender or food processor. Pour little by little into the boiling gravy, until it is about the right thickness.
If using milk, continue to boil. As it gets too thick, add more milk. This increases the milk solids as the water evaporates, raising both the calcium and flavor.
If you don't use milk, the flavor can be increased by adding a little Kitchen Bouquet and/or soup base in the appropriate flavor (beef for beef gravy, chicken for chicken gravy, etc). Extra flavor means you may use less salt and still have a satisfying gravy. Adding a little black pepper also enhances the flavor.
After gravy is finished to your satisfaction, add just enough salt or salt substitute to give it the taste you want. Note that if your meat was salted before cooking, you may need very little or no added salt in the gravy. Taste first!
This gravy does contain the fat used to toast the flour plus whatever is in the drippings. But it contains a lot less than regular gravy, and if you are going to eat meat (which contains fat and cholesterol), there's no point balking at the small amount more fat in this gravy.
Note #1: Ham, chicken, turkey and pork all go well with a milk gravy, while beef does not. We suggest using water only with beef. You could also use defatted broth (canned, fresh or frozen). Use chicken broth for poultry, lamb or pork, beef broth for beef or veal.
Note #2: If you have a lot of drippings, for instance from a turkey or roast, it may be worth your while to make up three or four times as much as you need for the present meal. Extras can be refrigerated and used within a day or two to make meat pies, for instance, or heated and used to top bread, boiled potatoes or biscuits. It may be frozen for later use, too.
Note #3: You may substitute corn starch for this second batch of flour, or for a more authentic flavor, potato starch. Use about half as much cornstarch as you would flour. Dissolve in a little water, beating with a fork. Proceed as above.