I’ll be honest, every year I am always shocked by the stacks of glass jars of gravy prominently displayed at the grocery store around Thanksgiving. I’m going to let you in on a little secret, if you cook a turkey, you have all the makings for gravy, and it’s pretty easy to make and tastes so much better than that stuff out of a jar. The technique is pretty simple, and translates to all kinds of gravy once you know the basics.
There are three major components to gravy: some kind of fat, flour, and some kind of liquid. The fat can be the rendered fat from your protein, can be butter, or can be vegetable or olive oil depending on the use. Then flour, the all-purpose in your cabinet is what you want, and then liquid. For turkey gravy, you are going to use some combination of the pan drippings and either homemade turkey stock or a good-quality, low-sodium chicken broth.
For years, my dad used chicken broth in the stuffing but took the little bag of giblets, washed them, and put them in a pan with an onion, celery, carrots, a bay leaf, and some poultry seasoning, and let that boil away on the back of the stove. Several hours later, he would strain the liquid and use the broth to augment the turkey drippings, and would dice the giblets to stir into his gravy.
Today, I usually make a gallon of browned turkey stock. The grocery store has helpfully started selling packages of necks, wings, and drumsticks. I use this stock in the two kinds of stuffing as well as to make my gravy. I’ve included the recipe for both my traditional gravy and the browned turkey stock below.
Browned Turkey Stock
Yield – 1 gallon
1 package turkey necks
1 package turkey wings
1 package turkey drumsticks
Salt and Pepper
3 medium onions, peeled and quartered
4 large carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
4 stalks celery, peeled and roughly chopped
¼ cup parsley
4 sprigs fresh thyme
3 bay leaves
1 tbsp whole peppercorns
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large roasting pan, lightly oil the turkey parts and season with salt and pepper. Roast the turkey parts for 45 minutes, until nicely browned. After 45 minutes, place the turkey parts in a large stock pot and add the remaining ingredients as well as 1 gallon of cold water. Bring the water to a boil, then turn the heat down to medium low and simmer covered for 1 hour. Strain the stock, then cool in an ice bath in your sink before refrigerating. You can discard the turkey parts or allow them to cool and remove the meat to use in your turkey gravy. The stock will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator or up to 2 months in the freezer.
Difficulty - Easy
Yield – 5 cups
6 tbsps turkey fat
½ cup plus 1 tbsp all-purpose flour
4 ½ cups drippings and/or turkey stock or gravy
Salt and Pepper to taste
To prepare the gravy:
After removing your turkey from your choice of cooking vessel, you will be left with turkey drippings in the bottom of your pan. Pour those drippings into a glass measuring cup. You will be able to see the fat float to the top. Carefully remove 6 tablespoons of fat into a medium sauce pan. Should you find yourself with less than 6 tablespoons, you can add butter to make up the difference. You can discard the remaining turkey fat, or keep for other uses, including fresh gravy for the next day. What is left in the bottom of the glass measuring cup is the concentrated turkey juices. To those, add enough chicken broth or browned turkey stock to make 4 ½ cups of liquid.
Turn the medium saucepan to medium high heat, then whisk in the flour. Cook the flour and fat mixture (roux) for 2-3 minutes, then slowly whisk in the drippings. Turn the heat to low and allow to simmer for 5-10 minutes, until the mixture has thickened. Check for salt and pepper, and season accordingly. You can add the giblets, or small bits of chopped turkey if you choose. In the South, it is traditional in some houses to add a chopped up hard-boiled egg or two to the gravy, but I will leave that addition up to you.