photo credit: @Food_to_Glow
You’ve prepped all of your sides, your bird is roasted to golden perfection and your mashed potatoes are lump free.
That wasn’t so bad, right?
Until you suddenly realize it’s time to make the gravy….
We get it, it’s stressful, it’s messy, you don’t want your other food to get cold, but learning to master pan gravy will make a world of difference in your Thanksgiving meal. So tent that bird and let it rest. Keep the other food warm in a low oven. We promise your mashed potatoes won’t dry out (even if your mother-in-law insists they will).
Step 1 Caramelized Veggies Are Your Friend
You can’t have good gravy without good drippings. Add some chopped onions, shallots, garlic, celery and carrots to the bottom of your roasting pan along with a cup of dry white wine, and enough chicken stock to go about an inch up the side of the pan. While the turkey roasts, you can add more stock to account for evaporation, but when the turkey is almost done, let the stock cook off a bit so your veggies get nice and brown.
Let me take a minute here to talk about roasting pans. If you plan on using a non-stick one, well, please just don’t. I’ve learned the hard way that they make for easy clean up, but bland gravy. You’ve been warned. Also, you’re going to deglaze the roasting pan anyway, so don’t worry about all that baked on mess, that’s what’s going to make your gravy delicious! Also, if possible, use one that is safe for use on the stove-top as well.
Step 2 Mise en Place!
When the time comes, you’re going to need the following:
½ cup AP Flour, or quick-mixing flour if available
6-8 cups Turkey or Chicken Stock, warmed
Small ladle (for skimming fat, you can use a gravy separator but I’ve never had much success with them)
Fine mesh strainer
Large metal or glass bowl
1 lemon (for emergencies! More on that later…)
2 tablespoons cold butter
Get everything together and easily accessible.
Step 3 Carpe Diem!
When your Turkey is done, remove it from the pan (This is never graceful, and always stressful. If the Turkey falls on the floor, I’m a firm believer in the 5-second rule) and allow it to rest on a large carving board that has one of those clever moats around it. You’re going to want that juice!
Tent the turkey with foil while you prepare the gravy.
Place the roasting pan on top of the stove (if your pan isn’t stove-top safe, transfer the contents of the roasting pan to a large skillet but make sure to scrape as much of the browned bits from the pan as possible). You’ll want to turn the heat on (you’ll probably need two burners to reach the entire roasting pan) to moderate heat. When the drippings start getting nice and bubbly, deglaze the pan with the vermouth. I usually use about ½ cup, but use your judgment. The point of this step is to get all of the delicious fond off the side of the pan and into your gravy. Add
about two cups of stock (just to further loosen the drippings from the pan) and remove from heat. Cool slightly.
When the pan has cooled off a little, strain all of the contents through the fine mesh strainer into bowl. Make sure you push down on the solids with the back of a spoon to get all of the flavor out of them. Task a trust worthy sous chef to skim the fat off the pan drippings into a measuring cup (you want about a ½ cup). Once you have half a cup of fat from the drippings, discard the rest of the fat and keep the drippings somewhere close by the stove. Add the reserved fat to your skillet. When it its nice and hot, sprinkle the flour over the top, stirring constantly for about 5 minutes or until the roux is golden brown.
Slowly add stock to roux, whisking constantly (use some elbow grease here!) so you don’t get any lumps. Add the reserved pan drippings and any juices that have collected on the carving board. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Let cook for about 10 minutes, or until thickened. It should coat the back of a spoon. Season the gravy with black pepper and taste. If it’s too salty, add some lemon juice. It will help to balance out the flavor. Add the cold butter and swirl the pan around, allowing it to melt slowly. This will ‘finish’ your gravy and give it a nice satiny texture. Make sure not to let the gravy boil after this step, or it could break (i.e. get greasy). Keep the gravy warm while you carve your turkey and enjoy your Thanksgiving feast!
Note: I never have to add any salt to my gravy because we brine our bird and season it generously before roasting, so therefore the drippings are always a bit salty. If this is not the case for you, feel free to season the gravy with kosher salt, and if you go too far, just add some more lemon juice!