Jamie Oliver's get-ahead gravy

We had our trial-run Christmas lunch yesterday. Except we did it a dinnertime. And I'll tell you this about Christmas: it is a fucking hassle. I can't quite believe I've got to do all that all over again in 3 weeks' time. And I was only on pudding, sauces, relishes and decorations - my husband had the real sweat on doing the turkey and all the rest.

But what are you going to do? It's just life, innit. Like I was complaning on and on and on to my single Hot Career friends J- and E- the other week about how I thought I'd be a wife and mother as a bit of a retro-laugh and now I'm right in it and marvelling what a hilarious joke I seem to have played on myself. I was expecting a tidalwave of sympathy, because I am a moaney old cow, but they both just looked at me blanky and boredly and said "Yeah, life is vile."

Since then I've tried to complain a bit less about everything.

Anyway look, for god's sake, if this isn't already in your repertoire, do Jamie Oliver's get-ahead gravy if you're lumbered with Christmas this year. It's a ruddy life-saver. Do it this weekend and freeze it.

This is not Jamie's exact recipe. The real thing is easily sourced on the internet.

Jamie Oliver's get-ahead gravy
Makes 1 litre, enough for about 8 people

8 chicken wings or wings or stock bones or whatever
2 carrots, quartered
1 small onions, quartered
2 sticks of celery, trimmed and, you guessed it: quartered
fresh sage leaves - about 5?
fresh rosemary - two sticks?
3 bay leaves
1 star anise IF YOU WANT. I, personally, didn't think the Chinesey flavour this imparted was very appropriate, although it's nice
4 rashers streaky bacon, snipped
4 tbs plain flour
1 tbs cranberry sauce
some olive oil

1 Tip everything except the flour and the cranberry sauce into a roasting tin, slosh some olive oil over it, salt and pepper, turn it all around to coat and put in a 180C oven for 1 hour

2 Take it out and bash everything up in the pan. Jamie recommends using a potato masher but I found stabbing everything with an assortment of wooden items, such as a spoon and then a rolling pin, was easier

although I took this photo at the masher stage

3 Put the pan on the hob on a low heat and sprinkle over the flour a spoonful at a time, mixing well in to the mixture after each snowfull

4 Now pour over two litres of water, just cold from the tap, mix together and boil briskly for ten minutes and then simmer for 25. It will reduce by roughly half

5 Strain the gravy. I found this easier to do once through a colander and then once again through a sieve - although this does create more washing up.

6 Now put in tupperware and forget about it until Christmas Eve. Don't bother skimming the fat now because there's something about the freezing/thawing process that draws out the fat from the gravy more effectively.

7 On the day, either just heat this up and finish off with some cranberry sauce and serve OR add the juices from the turkey roasting tin. You are supposed to add the turkey juices, but you will probaby be feeling utterly mental and a bit tearful by this stage and won't be arsed to be adding no damn juices to sauces. So I'm just telling you now that if you want to serve this gravy straight up without turkey juices no-one will notice.

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