Good Gravy: The Best Gravy Ever
It is not hard to make good gravy but it can be easy to mess it up. One time many years ago before I had gone to culinary school, I went to Florida to spend Thanksgiving with my Aunt Signe. She lived in Fort Lauderdale at the time and I flew down there to visit whenever I could. I even seriously thought about moving down there but decided to stay in WI to be closer to my Dad. I have never looked back on that decision.
I cooked everything for that Thanksgiving meal. I made turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberries and the rest of the trimmings associated with what was our classic family Thanksgiving meal. Because I was making everything, it was decided by Signe and her housemate John that they would make the gravy. I protested a bit as I recall, but eventually acquiesced and let them make the gravy. The meal was excellent, except for the gravy–which was not good at all. Thankfully I usually don’t have to be the one to bring up this story, because either of them will do it first. (Note, the cover picture here is not their gravy. It is the amazing Gravy Fountain from GameFeed 2014!)
I have been teaching Turkey Dinner classes for years. There are many tips for how to take the stress out of making the full meal (besides having someone else do it). [Here is an earlier blog with some more of my Thanksgiving tips.]
One of my favorite recipes is the Do-Ahead Gravy. You can make it days, weeks or even a month ahead and simply freeze it. I have the exact recipe and method below, but it begins with a mixture of equal parts butter or margarine and flour cooked in a sauce pot until smooth. This is called a roux. Then chicken, turkey or even vegetable stock is slowly added while whisking. The mixture is whisked until the roux has blended into the stock, then brought to a boil, and cooked it until thick. Adding a little salt and pepper now is a good idea but you don’t want to add too much salt as more will be added later. I like to make sure to have the sauce a little thick because you can always thin it out but it is harder to thicken it at the last minute, which kind of defeats the purpose of making it ahead.
At this point you just cool it and store it until you are ready to reheat it. If you don’t have a lot of stove space available a great way to reheat the gravy is in a crockpot. You should reheat the gravy close to when the turkey comes out of the oven. All of those wonderful pan drippings and scrapings are waiting in the roasting pan for you to remove and place in a measuring cup. This is your secret ingredient. After you have removed as much fat as you wish to from the drippings, you add them to the now hot pre-made gravy. If you seasoned your turkey well, you shouldn’t have to add much more salt and pepper, but check to see if you need to anyway. (Like thinning/thickening, you can always add more salt and pepper but you can’t take them out.) Make sure the gravy is piping hot before you serve it!
½ cup butter or margarine
½ cup all-purpose flour
3 cups turkey, chicken or vegetable stock
Salt and pepper to taste
½-1 cup of pan drippings
Method: Put the butter and flour in a sauce pot. Over medium low heat cook the mixture while stirring, until it is thick, smooth and bubbly. Add a half-cup of the stock and stir until smooth, then continue adding the stock while stirring. This will help keep lumps from forming. If lumps do form, simply strain them out by forcing them through a wire mesh strainer. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook 10-15 minutes until nicely thickened, stirring occasionally. It should be thick. Hold if desired at this point and then reheat when ready to use. Add the turkey drippings and bring to a boil. Season if necessary with salt and pepper. Serve piping hot.