There’s a reason we use the word “gravy” as slang for “something good.” Gravy is such a delicious, beloved part of the Thanksgiving meal, it gets its own special vessel. There are entire Pinterest boards dedicated to the meaty, creamy stuff, from old-fashioned pan gravy and bourbon gravy to gravy made with chipotle peppers, mushrooms, bacon and even chocolate.
Yet the process of making gravy can be intimidating to home cooks attempting their first Thanksgiving meal. If you’re cooking for a big Thanksgiving group (when time is even more of the essence) or helping to prepare Thanksgiving dinner in someone else’s home, getting the gravy right is key.
Let’s demystify it a little bit.
There are a few things you need to make gravy. First, don’t wash out that roasting pan after the turkey is finished cooking. Those delicious, flavorful drippings on the bottom are the first ingredient.
(Didn’t roast your turkey in the oven but still want gravy? Check out this recipe for simple gravy from Chow.com, made with shallots, Marsala wine and chicken broth).
If it’s big enough, place your roasting pan over two burners, set on medium heat. Pour a few cups of liquid — usually a combination of broth, wine and/or cider — and scrape up the flavorful browned bits from the bottom of the pan. This is called deglazing, and you can do it with any liquid.
After the liquid reduces, pour it into a gravy separator, sometimes called a fat separator (at left, Oxo makes them in several sizes, available at Macy’s and other stores).
A fat separator is really the easiest thing for this step, but if you don’t have one, one option is to wait for the fat to separate as it cools, sped up if necessary by putting it in the fridge.
Skim the fat off the top and return it to the hot pan. Sprinkle on some flour and whisk constantly (this keeps it from getting lumpy) until it starts to thicken and darken slightly.
Pour in the reserved turkey juices from earlier and whisk those in, too. Bring it to a boil. The mixture will thicken and get smooth, coating the back of a spoon.
Finish up with chopped fresh herbs, salt and pepper. Even if it’s looser, or more liquidy, than you’re used to, don’t worry; the gravy will get thicker in the gravy boat.
For easy and delicious gravy to serve with your Thanksgiving turkey, try these recipes:
- Alton Brown’s Best Gravy Ever
- Bon Appetit’s Sage Butter Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy
- Foolproof Gravy from Real Simple
- Cider Gravy (made with turkey giblet stock) in Eating Well
- From Nancy Oakes and Pamela Mazzola in Bon Appetit, Roast Heritage Turkey with Bacon-Herb and Cider Gravy
To add flavor to the drippings, take a tip from Food Network chef Anne Burrell, who makes a brined, herb-crusted Thanksgiving turkey with apple cider gravy. She builds the ingredients for her gravy into the roasting. The final product includes flavors of onion, carrots, celery, garlic and Granny Smith apple, with bay leaf, thyme and cinnamon.
For more on gravy, Thanksgiving turkey and tips on how to make this year’s holiday one to remember, download our FREE Ultimate Turkey Guide (click the link below).
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