If you think of your favorite comfort foods, you’ll probably notice that they have something in common. They usually have ingredients that are gathered from what supplies the cook has on hand. Tomato Gravy is an example of this. Foraging through the garden and cupboards when times are tough yields interesting, and simple, ingredients that create wonderful pots of simmering comfort.
Perhaps that’s why certain foods make us feel good. Even if we don’t remember hard times like our parents or grandparents did, we sat at the table with these family folks eating the comfort foods from their youth, and it became our comfort food.
When it comes to varieties in recipes, Tomato Gravy is at the top of the list. There are as many variations as there are cooks. We make simple tomato gravy during the winter with whatever we have on hand – if I have canned diced tomatoes, that’s what I use. If I have tomato sauce, I use that. If the garden is ripe, I pick tomatoes. If I have onion on hand, I might throw some in. The basic flour and oil thickened tomatoes recipe has a lot of room for tweaking.
Tomato Gravy starts with a good, golden roux. Every cook knows you need a thickener to begin your tomato gravy dish and that thickener should be a mixture of oil and flour cooked until it’s slightly golden in color – in other words, a roux. If you are afraid to let your roux get golden color, you will end up with a flour taste in your finished dish. You can use a combination of butter and oil for extra flavor, but don’t use only butter as it tends to burn rather easily.
Whether you need a side dish or a full meal, tomato gravy can be part of your family’s menu plan. Bake some potatoes and top with some tomato gravy, a dollop of sour cream, and a sprinkle of crispy bacon pieces and you have a great meal that’s filling and comforting. Breaded chicken cutlets with tomato gravy spooned over the top is a treat that any hungry family will love. You might even serve tomato gravy for breakfast, spooned over some hash with an egg on top.
Even if you don’t happen to have an old family recipe for tomato gravy, there are plenty of resources to find one. Any good cookbook will have at least one recipe and the internet recipe sites will have plenty to choose from. You’ll probably be overwhelmed at first because there are so many variations. Stick to the most simple recipes at first. You can always expand later, but even the simplest recipe of a roux, tomatoes with salt and pepper will taste great when you’re hungry!
One thing to keep in mind when you’re looking at recipes is that you’ll see cooks using a cast iron skillet. I love my cast iron skillets too much to boil up tomato gravy in them. It looks pretty on the pictures in the cookbooks, but tomatoes are very acidic and will quickly destroy your cast iron skillet’s patina. Use your regular pots and pans for this dish and save your cast iron skillet for frying up your chicken.
All it takes to serve a wonderfully filling comfort food is a few readily available ingredients – that’s how all comfort foods are created. Treat your family to a simple and tasty Tomato Gravy made easily with ingredients you have on hand and warm your family inside and out with a heaping helping of this simple dish that’s filled love.