Making perfect gravy for your holiday turkey is not difficult and much better than anything that ever came from a jar, can or packet. This simple recipe makes your feast worth remembering. Perfect on turkey, potatoes and stuffing.
Do not use a non-stick pan when cooking your turkey. This way, there will be more crispy, cooked-on bits, which add flavor to the gravy.
Don’t cook your turkey or gravy in an aluminum pan either as the aluminum interacts with the gravy, turning it greyish and dull. Best to use enamel or steel for the roasting pan.
Have the bird set on a wire rack in the pan with the vegetables spread evenly across the pan. Small cut carrots, onion and celery make the best trinity of flavors and yield the finest level of caramelization to give you a rich gravy.
- turkey stock or broth
- turkey drippings, defatted
- 1 1/2 Cups Madeira wine
- 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Make stock while turkey is roasting using the neck and gizzards. Do not use the liver or heart as these will make the stock bitter. Add an onion, stalk of celery cut in pieces, a carrot (peeled and chopped coarsely), some herbs and crushed peppercorns. Don't add salt.
- Transfer roasted turkey to a large platter. Pour juices from the pan into a fat separator. Set aside to separate, about 10 minutes.
- Strain stock (if you have it, use cheesecloth), discarding solids, and return to saucepan; warm over low heat. Place roasting pan on top of stove over medium-high heat. Pour Madeira into measuring cup, then into pan, and let it bubble; scrape bottom and sides of pan with a wooden spoon to dislodge cooked-on bits.
- Make a slurry: Place flour in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Ladle 1 cup luke warm (not hot) stock into jar, and close lid. Shake until combined. Slowly pour into roasting pan; stir to incorporate. Cook over medium heat, stirring until flour is cooked, 2 to 3 minutes. Slowly stir in remaining stock.
- Raise heat to medium high. Add the dark drippings that have settled to the bottom of the fat separator to roasting pan. Discard fat. Stir in rosemary. Season with salt and pepper. Cook 10 to 15 minutes to reduce and thicken. (For thicker gravy, add 1 more tablespoon flour and 1/2 cup less stock.)
- Strain liquid from pan through a very fine sieve. Adjust seasoning. Keep warm in heat-proof bowl over a pan of simmering water until ready to serve, then pour into your gravy boat.
After the turkey is done roasting:
Remove the cooked turkey and rack from the roasting pan. Transfer turkey to a cutting board with a lip to collect juices and let the turkey rest before carving. While the turkey is resting, make the gravy.
Place roasting pan (with the drippings and fat) over two (2) burners on your stovetop over medium heat (always make the gravy in the same pan you used to roast the turkey). With a slotted spoon, remove any loose vegetables you may have in the bottom of your pan.
Skim and discard any excess fat from the juices in the roasting pan. An easy way to remove the fat is to pour the turkey juices and fat into a large measuring cup or bowl. The fat will float to the top of the bowl. Skim off all the fat and return it to the turkey roasting pan; discard the remaining fat.
Using a heavy spoon, scrape all the dark drippings and any crunchy bits from the sides and bottom of roasting pan. Leave them in your roasting pan as these are what add great flavor and a nice rich color to the gravy.
Add the turkey giblet stock, that you previously made, to the roasting pan to add additional rich flavor to the turkey gravy recipe above.
Fixing gravy problems:
Gravy is greasy – If gravy seems greasy, a fat separator should eliminate this problem. If you discover that your gravy is oily toward the end of its preparation, skim off as much fat as possible with a wide-bowled spoon.
Gravy is doughy – If gravy has a doughy or chalky taste, make sure the flour has been cooked long enough. When the flour is added to the pan drippings or butter, whisk constantly while the mixture cooks until it turns a deep golden brown and smells nutty. If the gravy tastes floury when you’re almost finished, turn up the heat to maintain a rapid simmer for several minutes; then thin it again with more stock or water if necessary.
Lumpy gravy – Don’t worry iff your gravy has lumps. Just strain the gravy just before serving, using a fine sieve; discard solids. Another quick method is to place the lumpy gravy in your food processor or blender and process until smooth.
Thin gravy – If gravy is too thin, simmer over medium-high heat, allowing the liquid to reduce more.
Thin gravy can be easily thickened by adding a mixture of either flour and water or cornstarch and water, which has been mixed to a smooth paste. Add gradually, stirring constantly, while bringing to a boil. Continue to cook and stir to eliminate the flour flavor.
You can also blend 1 teaspoon of flour per cup of cold water, and then mix into the prepared gravy. Continue to cook and stir to eliminate the flour flavor.
Thick gravy – If gravy is too thick, gradually whisk in additional stock or water (a little at a time) into the gravy until it reaches desired consistency.
No flavor – If gravy lacks flavor, you should adjust seasoning as necessary with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper.
If you use canned stock instead of homemade, the gravy might lack depth of flavor. Homemade stock, even made with chicken rather than turkey, will produce a superior gravy—so it’s worth the effort. A trick that I use, is to cook a whole chicken in water a day or two before Thanksgiving for our dinner. I use the chicken meat for that night’s dinner and refrigerate the chicken stock until Thanksgiving day to use in my gravy.
Salty gravy – If the over salting is severe, the gravy must be repaired by increasing the quantity of gravy. Prepare another batch of gravy, omitting all salt. Blend the two batches together.
Gravy too light in color – If you brown the flour well before adding the liquid when making gravy, you will avoid pale or lumpy gravy.
You can also make dark gravy with unbrowned flour by making a dark roux. A roux is a thickener made from equal amounts of fat and flour. Heat the fat, add the flour, and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until the roux becomes a deep brown. When making gravy with the roux, it will not thicken as well, so you will need more of it.
If all the above tips fail in getting your gravy to brown to a rich color or you just want a quick and easy solution, add 1/8 teaspoon instant coffee granules and stir to blend.
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