1 roast (beef, ham or poultry)
1/2 pint flour
1/2 pint water
Salt as desired
Most people put a half a pint of flour and water into their tin-kitchen, when they set meat down to roast. This does very well; but gravy is better flavored, and looks darker, to shake flour and salt upon the meat; let it brown thoroughly, put flour and salt on again, and then baste the meat with about half a pint of hot water (or more, according to the [amount of] gravy you want.) When the meat is about done, pour these drippings into a skillet, and let it boil. If it is not thick enough, shake in a little flour; but be sure to let it boil, and be well stirred, after the flour is in. If you fear it will be too greasy, take off a cupful of the fat before you boil. The fat of beef, pork, turkeys and geese is as good for shortening as lard. Salt gravy to your taste. If you are very particular about dark gravies, keep your dredging-box full of scorched flour for that purpose.
From The American Frugal Housewife by Mrs. [Lydia] Child, 1833
Comment: “Scorched flour” does not sound like a very attractive item, but under its more common name of browned flour is well regarded even today for gravy-making. It is made by simply putting common flour–either white or whole wheat–into a dry frying pan and cooking it over low to medium heat, stirring continually, until it looks cooked. (White flour will become brown, and since whole wheat is browner to begin with it will simply become more so.) More important than the greater darkness of the resulting gravy is the fact that the scorching process cooks the flour in advance of its actual addition to the sauce. Many failures in gravy-making can be traced to the flour or other thickening agent being insufficiently cooked in the pan, resulting in a pasty consistency and unpleasant taste.