Nothing says Thanksgiving like delicious homemade gravy – poured over almost everything! Don’t be stressed by the ‘on the spot’ timing of gravy making, depending on having enough pan drippings to make a decent gravy, or the fear that the gravy may or may not turn out to your liking! The answer is in making a big batch of homemade turkey stock well in advance of the big day.
Every year, I make my big batch of homemade turkey stock, freeze it in quart size containers, then no worry about having the pan drippings that are going to make or break the star of the show – turkey and gravy!
HERE’S HOW: This time of year, you’ll start to see turkey wings, backs, and thighs in the grocery store. I used 4 turkey wings and a few backs that were already packaged at the store. Place them in a large roasting pan with a couple of cut up carrots and celery stacks (great time to use the leafy greens of celery,) one large onion cut in quarters and a full head of garlic cut in half lengthwise across (skins and all,) several sprigs of thyme and rosemary, generous coating of good olive oil, generous sprinkles of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Into a 400F oven for about 45 minutes to one hour – everything should be golden brown and crispy.
Transfer turkey/veggies into a large stock pot, cover with water by a couple of inches, bring to a boil, then simmer for a couple of hours. Taste along the way to ensure a flavorful broth, adding more salt and pepper to taste as this is going to be the flavor for your gravy. After a couple of hours, remove the turkey wings (and any other parts with meat) to a side bowl. Strain out all the other parts and veggies, reserving the hearty, delicious, flavorful broth. You’ll probably end up with 5-6 quarts of stock, so use a couple for the gravy and store the rest as the base for some delicious homemade turkey soup! (It’s also nice to give a quart or two away to a friend to help ease their Thanksgiving day stress.) The turkey meat from the stock bones makes a great turkey salad!
MAKING GRAVY: This step couldn’t be easier – and stress free! Heat one quart turkey stock in pan on stove top – heated through to simmer. In another large sauce pan, you’re going to make a roux (roo) as the base of the gravy. (Fancy, right?) Add equal parts butter/flour [6TBSP each] over medium heat. (You can substitute good olive oil for the butter.) Using a whisk (or fork) blend together over medium heat until mixed well and bubbly. Continue whisking for a minute or two to cook out the flour taste. From there, start adding broth, ladle by ladle, continuing to whisk with each addition. You’ll probably use the entire quart of stock, so make the gravy to a consistency that’s to your liking. Taste and add additional salt/pepper to ensure full flavor for the big bird! Keep warm on very low temp, or turn off and reheat as you’re ready to gather around the Thanksgiving table.