Like gravy and stew seasoning packets in the spice aisle, Bisto gravy granules, powders and pastes offer a quick and easy method to make gravy and thicken sauces. In addition to gravy products, Bisto also makes stock melts as a quick way to make stock, similar to using bouillon. Varieties include original, favourite, brown, beef, chicken, turkey, onion and vegetable, as well as reduced sodium options.
While you would be unlikely to find a kitchen in any British home that isn't stocked with a Bisto product, Bisto availability in the United States is usually limited to upscale grocery stores and specialty markets. Bisto started in 1908 as a challenge issued by the wives of Bisto's founders to create a product that streamlined gravy making. Bisto has expanded from its original brown gravy powder to include potato starch and wheat starch as thickeners, plus yeast powder, spices and flavoring. The favourite, onion and vegetable Bisto products are vegan friendly without the addition of meat drippings. Turkey, chicken and pork Bisto products contain powdered meat, making them unsuitable for vegan diets.
Creating Bisto gravy is as simple as stirring the Bisto mix and boiling water until smooth. Bisto recommends mixing the gravy at a rate of 4 heaping tablespoons to 1 cup of water -- adjust the amount of Bisto or water depending on the desired gravy thickness. Use the same ratio when adding meat drippings to the gravy. Remove the meat from the pan and spoon out as much of the fat as possible. Add half of the water to the drippings and scrape the sides of the pan to deglaze the pan. Mix the Bisto with the remaining water until smooth; stir in the drippings and water from the pan. Bisto gravy paste works much the same way but comes in a single-use pouch. Squeeze the pouch to soften the paste and mix the pouch contents with hot water at a rate of 1 1/2 cups of water per pouch.
Bisto Beyond Gravy
Bisto gravy enhances foods such as mashed potatoes and roast meat, but Bisto is useful in applications far beyond the obvious. A few tablespoons of original or favourite Bisto adds a rich, meaty flavor complexity to a pot of chili con carne. Stir some gravy granules or powder into soups for a flavor boost and some thickening power. Intensify the meat flavor in cottage pie -- shepherd's pie with beef -- with brown Bisto. Stir the Bisto directly into the skillet while making the cottage pie base. Bisto granules also help to thicken the juices in stew, turning thin juices into a thick, gravy-like sauce that coats the meat and vegetables.
Bisto stock melts create easy vegetable, beef and chicken stock to use independently or with Bisto gravy mix for extra flavor. Stock melts come in gelatinous form in small tubs. Melt a single tub of stock melts in 2 cups of hot water, or stir it directly into food to melt and add flavor. The finished stock works well for making soups, stews, risotto, casseroles and even chicken and dumplings. Use Bisto melts stock to boost the flavor of basic mashed potatoes or cornbread stuffing. The gel form also works well when added directly to stir fry or other single-pan recipes to make an easy sauce.
A former cake decorator and competitive horticulturist, Amelia Allonsy is most at home in the kitchen or with her hands in the dirt. She received her Bachelor's degree from West Virginia University. Her work has been published in the San Francisco Chronicle and on other websites.