Good Gravy! (Recipe)
There is nothing like a wonderful sauce to top off a meal and at Thanksgiving that “sauce” is gravy. If you have done all the work to roast a turkey, delicious gravy is the perfect way to take advantage of all the wonderful pan-drippings and a must for mashed potatoes. The key to great gravy is having robust stock and starting with a roux – a mixture of fat and flour.
Begin your stock early in the day, or make it in advance. If turkey is on the menu, clipping those wing tips for the stock puts them to much better use then roasting them, by adding extra richness. Brown the wing tips and the neck in a little olive oil, then add the rest of your stock veggies and let them brown a bit before adding liquid. If you want richer flavor use chicken stock instead of some or all of the water. Or, if convenient, I’ll sometimes pick up a package of turkey back pieces which are easy to find this time of year and make excellent stock. Allow your stock to simmer for several hours and you’ll have the perfect base for delicious gravy.
Now that the stock is out of the way, the rest just takes minimal attention. The biggest challenge is that gravy needs to be made during the last minute frenzy of getting your feast to the table, so before you start, enlist a helper to whisk the gravy. Once the bird is out of the oven, remove it from the roasting pan and tent with foil. It will need to rest at least 30 minutes.
Pour all the juices from the roasting pan into a measuring cup – this is where one of those fat separators comes in really handy. Either way, once the fat is separated from the juices, spoon about 1/2 cup back into the roasting pan. Heat and stir to scrape up remaining browned bits from the bottom of the pan.
Add 2/3 cup flour and whisk the flour into the fat (these ratios will need about 4-5 cups stock and yield around 5-6 cups gravy, depending on desired consistency). It will turn into a thick paste, but just keep stirring and browning your roux over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. Now add some stock and whisk until combined. Enlist a helper to continue the process of adding stock and whisking constantly until gravy reaches the desired consistency. Discard any remaining fat from your cup of pan juices and stir those flavorful juices into the gravy. Taste and add salt and pepper if needed, then pour yourself a beverage and pat yourself on the back because you have just made some fabulous gravy!