The Peanut Butter Hack That Can Save Burnt Gravy

It used to take years of experience to develop the knowledge that could save dishes from the countless ways we can ruin them. We learned from the generations before us, which means the scope of our culinary abilities was limited to what our parents and grandparents showed us. With the internet, we can exponentially increase our culinary knowledge, squirreling away tips that you'll need to use one day, and this is a great one that everyone could use at least once a year. 

When preparing meat, gravy can transform a dry roast or add another dimension of flavor and texture to a dish. While it can be easy to prepare, there are a few mistakes commonly made when cooking gravy, especially if you're trying to juggle a few plates simultaneously, which is often the case for Thanksgiving dinner.

Lumpy gravy is easy to fix, but burning it can be a deal breaker. Rather than tossing the burnt gravy you forgot about on the back burner, a simple hack can resurrect the acrid-tasting sauce. A spoonful of creamy peanut butter can mask the unpleasant burnt flavor and save you from starting over. Yes. Peanut butter.

How to save burnt gravy

While every burnt dish can't be saved, there are things home cooks can do to try to salvage it. These are particularly helpful tips if time is short or you don't have the ingredients to start over, which is often the case with gravy since all the meat drippings probably went into the first batch.

The first thing you should do is turn off the heat and strain the gravy into a new pot. You do not want to stir and dislodge the burnt ingredients from the bottom of the pan, which will intensify the bitter taste. Place the remaining gravy (albeit less than you started with) into a clean pot and gently reheat it.

For every four cups of gravy, stir in one tablespoon of creamy peanut butter – and yes, peanut butter expires, so check the date if you seldom use it. Avoid using chunky or unsweetened peanut butter since the gravy needs sugar to neutralize the flavor — and gravy should be smooth, not crunchy. The peanut butter's sweetness will balance the bitter taste of burnt gravy, and its thick consistency will only add to the gravy's velvety texture.

Peanut-free hacks for burnt gravy

As the prevalence of peanut allergies increases, peanut butter may not be the solution to burnt gravy for a growing portion of the population. Luckily, there are other options you can try before serving a dry roast.

Depending on the type of gravy, other sweeteners can be used to mask the unpleasant taste — even caramelized onions. Start with a small amount and taste the gravy, adding more if necessary. If the gravy is on the sweeter side, which would be delicious on pork, try adding honey to balance the flavors. Fig jam would also be a delicious choice. 

Vinegar can also be used with balsamic being a sweeter option than red wine. Alcohol is another solution that can also enhance the flavor. Try fortified wines like sherry, port, brandy, or Madeira.

If you don't want to add another liquid to your gravy, potatoes could be the solution. Slice raw potatoes and add them to the gravy for about 15 minutes then strain them out. The spuds will absorb the burnt taste and excess liquid, so this hack will make the gravy thicker too. If it becomes too thick, add some liquid (broth, water, wine) to keep the gravy from burning again.