Follow Paul Kelly’s gravy recipe at your own peril.
Follow Paul Kelly’s gravy recipe at your own peril.

How Paul Kelly’s gravy ruined Christmas

Paul Kelly might be one of Australia's greatest songwriters, but he's not a great cook. The boastful recipe in his song How to Make Gravy is just terrible.

Here is my recent correspondence with Mr Kelly after he ruined our Christmas.

Dear Mr Kelly,

I wish to complain about the gravy recipe contained in your 1996 Christmas-themed hit, How to Make Gravy.

Given that today, as in the song, is the 21st of December, I am reminded about how that hideous recipe ruined my family's Christmas dinner last year.

I now understand why the main character in the song, Joe, was jailed: it was for crimes against gravy and Christmas.

Kelly might be a music legend, but his cooking stinks. Picture: Tim Pascoe
Kelly might be a music legend, but his cooking stinks. Picture: Tim Pascoe


At our house, we have a delicious traditional Christmas dinner for our table - two gorgeous Red Rooster chickens and a double helping of peas, corn and chips.

I found the gravy from my local Red Rooster wanting in Christmas 2016, so for 2017 I sought inspiration from your song.

I followed Joe's gravy recipe in the song's lyrics to the letter.

"Just add flour, salt, a little red wine, and don't forget a dollop of tomato sauce for sweetness and that extra tang," he said.

With no extra instructions, I naturally assumed that this was a complete recipe, even though it was unclear how much of each ingredient should be used and how these should be blended together.

I was wrong. Horribly wrong.

I grabbed a cup of flour, a pinch of salt (is there any other measure for salt?), 300ml of red wine and a generous squirt of tomato sauce and placed them directly into my gravy boat.

I then whisked the mixture with a fork until the mixture was combined, and served it along with our golden roast chickens.

Mr Kelly’s gravy was wet, cold, tart and lumpy.
Mr Kelly’s gravy was wet, cold, tart and lumpy.


Traditionally, one would heat gravy, but the recipe called for no heating.

I was concerned about the quality of the reddish-grey substance in my gravy boat, and whether it would be an adequate accompaniment for our treat from Red Rooster, but I had faith in you, Mr Kelly.

I had faith.

To say Joe's gravy was wet, cold, tart, lumpy and inedible would be a gross understatement. It destroyed our hopes and dreams for the perfect Christmas.

It caused my youngest daughter to weep at the table.

The older kids stormed off with cries of scorn and derision.

My wife grabbed the nearest bottle of Passion Pop, walked from the dining room in silence to our bedroom, shut the door and did not re-emerge.

I was left to watch the replay of Carols by Candlelight on my own, surrounded by the dishes, eating both my Red Rooster chocolate mousse cup and all of theirs in the grip of a shame spiral.

It was, without doubt, the worst Christmas ever.

I pray that Joe is not allowed near the prison kitchen if he remains in jail - after all, if he got good behaviour as the song suggested, he may have been released by July.

For this mess, he did not deserve time off for good behaviour.

As for you, Mr Kelly, I demand that you rewrite and re-record How to Make Gravy with a more appropriate recipe, or I shall be forced to take my case to Consumer Affairs Victoria.

Yours faithfully,

Jamie Duncan

@JDwritesalot