Southern Style Comfort Food – Tomato Gravy

June 7, 2012 · Posted in Food and Drinks 

Like most comfort foods, Tomato Gravy was developed out of necessity. In other words, we ate what we had on hand. When times were hard, we foraged in our pantries and gardens and came up with dinner. Big pots and skillets bubbled away on the stove, biscuits baked in the oven, and we sat down and ate as a family.

Some food simply make us feel good inside. We may not have lived through any sort of hard times like our ancestors did, but if you gathered around your grandparent’s table, you know how these folks put together a meal out of what they had and turned it into a comforting meal. Those meals became our meals.

Tomato gravy has just about as many recipes as there are people who make it. If it’s garden season, we use fresh tomatoes, green onions, and even some green peppers if they have ripened in time. If it’s the middle of the winter, we might just make it using only oil, flour, canned tomatoes, and salt and pepper. Some folks use tomato paste instead of chopped tomatoes because they like a smoother consistency. We prefer the chunky style.

One thing most cooks agree with is that you have to start with a nice thickened oil and flour mixture. Making this thickener, or roux, takes a little bit of practice, but you’ll be glad you learned how to make it right. The trick is to keep stirring until the roux thickens, turns a little golden color and the flour taste cooks out. Some cooks like to use a mixture of oil and butter for extra flavor, but never use butter alone as it will easily burn.

Tomato gravy can form the main meal or serve as a side dish or light lunch. Serve tomato gravy over some freshly made buttermilk biscuits for a nice warm lunch or snack. If you’re serving a fried chicken dinner, add a pile of smashed potatoes covered with tomato gravy for a filling meal. You can also use tomato gravy to add flavor to other vegetables, like green beans or collards.

An old family recipe for tomato gravy is nice, but if you don’t happen to have one, check out the internet resources or cookbooks you already have. You are bound to find several recipes for tomato gravy. The recipes may vary so much that you get confused which one to try, so just choose the one that’s the simplest at first. You can tweak the recipe to suit your own taste as you go along, but even a basic roux and tomato sauce recipe will taste wonderful to your hungry family.

When you’re looking for recipes, you’ll see a couple featuring cooks making tomato gravy in cast iron skillets. That’s very pretty but I can’t recommend you do this. Because tomatoes are acidic, they will ruin the patina, the black coating, on your cast iron skillet. Save your pretty cast iron skillets for other dishes, like roasts and 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.

Give your meals an old fashioned appeal with tomato gravy on the table. Be sure to check out our other favorite homemade recipes for ideas how to make your meals feel like home.


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