Monday, November 17, 2008

How to Make Great Gravy

With Thanksgiving coming up, it's high time we discuss an important component of the meal that can make or break the dinner -- gravy.

The art of gravy making can be a challenge to those who only prepare the robust sauce on special holiday occasions, but in fact, making great turkey gravy isn't difficult.

To make the gravy, remove the cooked turkey and roasting rack from the roasting pan. Pour the poultry drippings through a sieve into a container or cup. Add 1 cup stock to the roasting pan and stir until crusty brown bits are loosened: pour the deglazed liquid/stock into the container with the pan drippings. Let the mixture stand a few minutes until the fat rises to the top.

Skim and discard any fat that remains on top of the poultry drippings, reserving 3-4 tablespoons.

Over medium heat, spoon the reserved fat into a 2 quart or larger saucepan. Whisk an equal amount of flour into heated fat and continue to cook and stir until the flour turns golden. To produce a full flavored gravy, it is critical to cook the flour in about an equal portion of fat until the flour has lost its raw taste. A rather common problem is the temptation to use too much flour, which decreases the flavor.

Gradually whisk in warm poultry drippings/stock mixture. Cook and stir until gravy boils and is slightly thick. Remember the gravy will continue to thicken after it has been removed from the heat. A good rule is to use between 1 and 2 tablespoons of flour for each cup of liquid and then give the mixture time to thicken.

If a shortage of turkey gravy is a common problem at your house, use a little melted butter and extra warmed poultry stock to increase the volume of the pan drippings.

The following chart lists several common gravy problems and ways to eliminate them so the grand feast will be complete.

Optional Ingredients:
You can dress up your gravy by adding optional ingredients. Try some fresh or dried herbs (use whatever you used to make your turkey). A little wine ( 3/4 cup or less) or brandy ( a few tablespoons) will add a complex flavor. For an extra rich gravy, try adding a little cream (1/4 - 1/2 cup). You can also add vegetables like cooked onion or mushrooms for variety. Use your imagination!

Gravy Making Troubleshooting Chart
Click the Troubleshooting Chart link for quick answers to gravy making problems like what to do if your gravy is too salty, too greasy, too thick, too thin, not the right color, or horror of horrors, lumpy.

Fabulous Gravy Recipes

  • Basic Turkey Gravy -- Here's a classic turkey gravy, sans giblets, for those prefer their gravy without.
  • Sherry Turkey Gravy -- This traditional turkey giblet gravy is given a burst of flavor and sophistication by the addition of sherry.
  • Turkey Giblet Gravy -- This recipe for classic turkey giblet gravy is perfect for an all American Thanksgiving dinner.
  • Mushroom Turkey Gravy -- Earthy mushrooms bring new depths of flavor to traditional turkey giblet gravy in this Thanksgiving worthy recipe.
  • Guiltless Low Fat Turkey Gravy -- Love gravy but hate the fat? Try this light alternative.
  • Vegetarian Gravy -- Here's a good all-purpose vegetarian gravy recipe. Serve it over mashed potatoes or Thanksgiving dressing, soy main courses, or whatever else your imagination conjures up.

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