My biggest problem with traditional gravy recipes is that they are last-minute. This is the final kitchen task of the day, since you need the drippings from the turkey roasting pan and stock from simmering giblets for the best flavor. For best results, try to get others to help with finishing other dishes while you concentrate on that gravy. I've never even attempted to pull this off but instead settle for something quicker and get down to the eating.
There are some secrets to making perfect gravy.
- Use a wire whisk to stir the gravy to avoid lumps.
- Make sure to thoroughly cook the flour in the fat (before adding liquid) to avoid a starchy taste.
- Salt is the key to the best flavor.
This recipe is adapted from Cook's Illustrated magazine, November/December 2001 edition. ATK recipe for Make Ahead Turkey Gravy.
Prep Time: 10 minutes Cook Time: about 3 hours Yield: approximately 1 quart
Turkey giblets (discard the liver, as it will make the stock cloudy and taste metallic) and neck plus the ribs, back bone, loose skin and fat (see butterflied turkey recipe) from the turkey. 1 medium carrot, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces 1 celery rib, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces 2 small onions, coarsely chopped into 1-inch pieces 6 garlic cloves, unpeeled
3 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth 3 cups water 2 cups dry white wine 6 sprigs fresh thyme 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Heat the oven to 450°. Place turkey giblets, necks, backs, carrot, celery, onions, and garlic into a large flameproof roasting pan. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray and toss to combine. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until golden-browned, about 45 minutes.
Remove roasting pan from oven and dump the solids into a large saucepan or stock pot. Place the roasting pan over 1 or 2 burners set at high heat. Add some of the chicken stock and deglaze the pan, scraping up browned bits on the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon.
Transfer contents of the roasting pan to the saucepan. Add wine, 2 cups of water, and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain stock into a large measuring cup or container. Cool to room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fat congeals, about 1 hour.
Skim fat from the stock and reserve/save. Pour the stock through a fine-mesh strainer to remove remaining bits of fat; discard bits in strainer. Bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. In a second medium saucepan, heat 4 Tbsp of the reserved turkey fat over medium-high heat until bubbling (if you don't have 4 Tbsp of fat, make up the difference with butter). Whisk in the flour and cook, whisking constantly, until combined and toasty honey-colored, about 2 minutes. Continuing to whisk constantly, gradually add the hot stock; bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.
To serve: bring the gravy to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Add a few grinds of black pepper, and then stir well to combine. Taste the gravy carefully. Adjust seasonings with more salt and pepper if necessary.
Salt is the key to the best gravy. But you have to add and taste constantly. Start with about 1/2 tsp. for 4 cups of liquid. Then sprinkle in a tiny bit at a time, stirring and tasting. You'll know when you have the right amount, because the gravy will suddenly come alive with a marvelous meaty flavor.
Transfer the gravy to a boat and serve.