With the possible exception of a soufflé, there is no dish that strikes more fear in the heart of the home cook than making gravy. After all, it contains the same ingredients as the homemade paste that we made as kids—flour and water. Gravy can be lumpy, runny, doughy, colorless and flavorless. No wonder so many cooks turn to gravy packets.
When my mother made gravy—and no meat or poultry was served with out it—the process seemed so effortless. Though I watched her do it hundreds of times, I have to admit I’ve made my share of insipid gravy over the years. But on Thanksgiving Day we want to get it right. We don’t want to ruin a perfectly baked turkey and fluffy mashed potatoes with an uninspired gravy.
Three kitchen implements (actually, a whisk will do) and the easy steps below, will put you back in the “Who-Made-The-Gravy?” category. There’s all kinds of way to get a passable result, but let’s go for “Touchdown Gravy.” Here’s what my mother did. I’ve broken the steps down by the essential ingredients: broth, drippings, fat, and flour. Here’s a similar recipe on video at Organic Authority and here at All Recipes for those who prefer visual instructions.
Don’t throw away those giblets. Throw them in a saucepan (with the exception of the liver; I’m not a liver lover), along with 4 cups of water and an unpeeled onion (adds color), a stick of celery, a carrot, bay leaf, parsley, and salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil and simmer for one and a half hours on the back burner while you cook the turkey.
Strain the broth and discard veggies and giblet (though my mother often cut up the giblet and picked meat from neck bone to put in her gravy, but I prefer smooth gravy). Set broth aside.
Pour turkey drippings and fat that accumulated during roasting into a glass measuring cup (or fat separator) and let stand until the fat rises to the top—about 10 minutes, or even faster in the refrig. Spoon off about 1/4 cup of the fat.
Using a wooden spoon or whisk, slowly add the reserved 1/4 cup fat, scraping the pan to blend tasty, brown bits left in the roaster, about 8-10 minutes. This will release flavor and color into your gravy. Combine drippings in glass measuring cup (fat removed) with broth from giblets to make about 4 cups liquid. Set aside.
Sprinkle about 6 tablespoons of flour over mixture in roaster and whisk until the roux reaches a dark brown color, 4 to 5 minutes. Keep whisking as you slowly add the reserved drippings/broth mixture.
Cook, whisking frequently, for about 15 minutes until gravy is thick and smooth. Lower heat and keep warm, whisking occasionally to keep skin from forming.
Voilà! You have
paste. Just kidding. Actually, you’ll have “Touchdown Gravy!”
How to Fix Gravy Mistakes
- Lumpy: Stain through sieve or process with a blender, food processor, or immersion blender until smooth.
- Too Thick: Whisk in more broth/dripping mixture, water, or canned broth.
- Too Thin: Continue simmering. If gravy is still too thin, combine equal parts flour and water in a small jar to form a slurry. Shake mixture and add slowly to gravy until it thickens.
- Colorless: Add just a bit of Kitchen Bouquet Browning Sauce or 1/8 teaspoon instant coffee granules.
- Flavorless: Add salt and/or fresh ground pepper.
- Greasy: Be sure to skim fat from roaster drippings before adding drippings to gravy.
- Skin forms on top: Remove skin with spoon, bring to a simmer and whisk.
A Quick Review
- Cook neck and giblets in 4 cups water in saucepan along with carrot, onion, celery and bay leaf for 1-1/2 hours. Strain to get clear broth.
- Pour drippings and fat from turkey roaster into glass measuring cup, or separator, and allow fat and drippings to separate
- Pour off fat and add 1/4 cup of it back into roasting pan.
- With a wooden spoon, scrape brown bits in bottom of roaster to incorporate with added fat, 8-10 minutes over medium heat.
- Using whisk, mix in about 6 tablespoons flour and cook roux until brown, 4-5 minutes.
- Combine broth from giblets and turkey drippings to make 4 cups liquid and whisk enough into gravy to bring it to the desired consistency.
- Taste first and then season with salt and pepper.