Thanksgiving Recipes – The Gravy

A friend once made a stew that started with a home made demi glace. He spent days roasting bones, deglazing pans and simmering pots. For years we joked that the first step in the recipe was “Take one calf. Reduce to a quarter cup.”

This gravy recipe isn’t quite that involved, but it comes close. You start by roasting the giblets, trimmings and vegetables to develop that rich, deep flavor you can only get from a whole lot of Maillard reactions. Then you add a bunch of stock and slowly reduce it to concentrate that flavor.

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It’s a long process and a lot of work for gravy, but it’s totally worth it. Fortunately, you can make this up to 3 days in advance, so you don’t have to do it while you’re also wrangling the turkey, stuffing and potatoes.

I based this on a Cook’s Illustrated recipe (subscription required).

Recipe – Serves many. It’s Thanksgiving, all these recipes will serve an army

Turkey  neck, backbone, trimmings and giblets, excluding liver
1 pound chicken wing tips or whole chicken wings*
1 carrot
1 rib celery
2 small onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, whole
vegetable oil
3 1/2 cups chicken stock
2 cups dry white wine
3 cups water
6 sprigs thyme
1/4 cup flour
salt and pepper

Pre-heat oven to 450° F.

Chop the turkey neck and backbone and the chicken wings into 1 inch pieces, breaking the bones.

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Chop carrot and celery into one inch pieces.

Place turkey, chicken, carrot, celery, onions and garlic in a large, flame-proof roasting pan. Toss very lightly with vegetable oil.

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Place pan in oven and roast, stirring every 10 minutes.

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Continue roasting till contents are deeply browned, but not burnt.  About 40 to 50 minutes.

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Move roasting pan to stove top and turn burners to high heat. Add stock and bring to a boil. Scrape bottom of pan to get all those tasty brown bits.

Transfer mixture to large stock pot and add wine, 3 cups of water and thyme. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat. Simmer until mixture is reduced by half.

Strain stock through two layers of cheese cloth and let cool to room temperature.

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Refrigerate at least one hour, until fat congeals on top of stock.  If making gravy ahead, this is a good place to stop. The stock will keep up to 3 days in the frig.

Skim fat from stock and reserve.

Strain stock through two layer of cheese cloth again and place in large stock pot. Bring stock to a low simmer over medium high heat.

In a small saute pan, heat reserved fat over medium high heat until bubbling. You’ll need about 4 TBS of fat. Add butter, if needed.

Slowly whisk flour into fat, stirring constantly, to make roux. Continue to cook until roux is honey-colored and loses its flour taste.

Slowly whisk roux into stock. Bring to boil and reduce to simmer.  Simmer until gravy is slightly thickened, 5 to 10 minutes. This is a thin gravy, not the thick, floury stuff often served at Thanksgiving.

Add salt and pepper to taste.


* About 2 months before Thanksgiving, Christmas or any other gravy-intensive holiday, start saving the tips from chicken wings and trimmings, like backbones, you get when prepping chickens. Just freeze them till you’re ready to make gravy, defrost them and throw them in the pan. The more the merrier.

About fzinger

I read and I write. I read a lot and I write when I can.
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