At my house, the level of success on Thanksgiving is usually determined by how rich and luscious the gravy is to pour over the top of, well, EVERYTHING ELSE. Since it tops, just about everything, it better be perfect. However, perfect doesn't need to mean complicated.
There are two important components to a good gravy, a good roux and good turkey stock. You can make a turkey stock the day or two ahead of the big day(or purchase in a box). You could even make weeks ahead of time and freeze.
No Brainer Turkey Stock
3 pounds turkey wings
1 turkey neck
4 celery stalks
Fresh Rosemary and Sage
1 Tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
Any giblets you have available (ask the butcher for some if your turkey didn't come with them)
Preheat oven to 450°. Spread turkey wings and turkey neck on a rack set in a large heavy roasting pan. Brush with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper; roast until browned, about 1 hour. Coarsely chop carrots, celery stalks, and onions; toss with 1 Tbsp. vegetable oil. Arrange around turkey parts. Roast until vegetables brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to a large pot. Add giblets and 16 cups (1 gallon) water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer, skimming surface occasionally, for 3 hours. Strain into another pot; boil until reduced to 2 quarts, about 30 minutes longer.
The apple cider vinegar is very important to pull any calcium from the bones which will up the mineral and health factor of your gravy.
So once you have this incredible stock, let's talk about a perfect roux.
What is a roux? (pronounced roo) A roux is equal parts butter and flour melted over low heat.. Melt 4 Tbsp. unsalted butter or turkey fat(or other fat I love duck fat) in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, whisk in the flour to combine. The roux will become smooth and golden brown.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER for the perfect gravy
Once your roux is smooth, golden brown and smells slightly nutty, this is when it is ready for you to slowly pour in your turkey stock. I would add two cups with this amount of roux. You can create more roux and increase the stock. You'll want to simmer over low heat until it thickens. Add salt and pepper to taste. You can also add other fresh herbs. For me, less is more. Let the flavors of the turkey, stuffing and other dishes elevate the meal, the gravy should be creamy and a smooth texture. If yours becomes clumpy you can push through a strainer.
If you are feeling extra decadent, you can always add a tbsp or two of heavy cream or half and half. After all, this is the holiday to take a nap after eating, right?
What do you do to make Thanksgiving special? Post a comment below or on my facebook feed!
Caitlin Johnson is a dietitian, wife, lover of ice cream, chef wannabe, California-girl, Christian, liver eating, "food-avore."
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