Turkey Gravy: The Do-Ahead Part of the Meal

Cut down on Thanksgiving stress (and saucepans)

When Thanksgiving rolls around, every square inch of any kitchen surface is packed with stuff, including every burner on the stove, often with pots too big to fit. Making the stock for the gravy a few days early gets a big stock pot out of the way, and gets one of the foundations of the dinner prepped early and put to bed.

A heavy roasting pan 5-6 # of turkey parts, chopped into 3-4 inch portions (necks, wings, legs) 1 large head of garlic, sliced in half horizontally 1 large onion, quartered 1 large carrot, chopped 2 ribs celery, chopped 2 bay leaves 1 tsp black peppercorns 1 tsp salt 1 tsp poultry seasoning mix (see note, below) 2 # duck or other poultry feet (optional) 4 Tbl fat 1/3 cup flour

Lightly oil the pan, fit the poultry parts into the pan, then roast at 450°F for 1 hour, or until nicely browned; halfway through, turn the parts over to roast the other side. Place the roasted parts (and the duck feet, if using) into a 5-quart pot. Add 2 cups of hot water to the roasting pan, place over two burners, and bring to a boil. Use a wooden spatula or spoon to scrape all of the browned bits off of the bottom of the roasting pan. Pour the water and browned bits into the pot and add enough warm water to cover the parts. Bring to just below a boil and cook 20 to 30 minutes, removing any scum that rises to the top of the pot. Add the garlic, onion, carrot, celery, bay, peppercorns, salt, and poultry seasoning and simmer over low heat 3 hours.

Ladle off and reserve any fat at the surface of the pot. Place a fine sieve (or a colander lined with a double layer of cheesecloth) over a container large enough to hold the stock and strain the stock, reserving the necks and making a sandwich from the meat of any wings or legs. Press gently on the vegetables to extract most of the liquid. Let the stock cool to room temperature and ladle off any fat that rises to the surface, reserving the fat for sautéing side dishes or for making the gravy roux. Refrigerate for up to 4 days, or freeze up to 6 months; about 1½ cups of the stock will be added to the bottom of the roasting pan when cooking the turkey.

The gravy will be made using the juices and browned bits from the bottom of the turkey's roasting pan, de-glazed with about a cup of dry white wine, reduced, and then combined with the re-heated stock made previously. Once that mixed liquid of roasting juices and wine has cooked down in half by volume, and all the browned bits are scraped off of the bottom of the roasting pan, transfer it to a container and ladle off and reserve any fat. Add the de-fatted reduced liquid to the reserved re-heated stock.

You'll need about 4 tablespoons of hot fat with about 1/3 cup of flour whisked into the fat over low heat to make the roux; any remaining fat can be used to sauté, or any extra fat that is needed for the roux can be substituted with butter. When the roux is just starting to turn a light tan, slowly whisk in 4 cups of hot turkey stock to make the gravy. If you are making giblet gravy you can add the minced meat from the reserved necks, the de-gristled gizzard, and the heart to the cooked gravy, cooking it at the last minute in the gravy. Some folks also like to add some chopped hard-boiled egg to the gravy. Season the gravy to taste with salt and pepper and keep warm until service.

Note: Duck, chicken, or goose feet are loaded with collagen and flavor and will add greatly to the richness of any poultry stock (and make a great snack to nibble on later on). They can be purchased at most Asian markets and at some specialty butcher shops or market vendors. In Austin they can be found at MT Market, inside the large Asian shopping mall at the intersection of Kramer and North Lamar.

To make your own poultry seasoning: 3 parts sage 3 parts marjoram 3 part savory 3 parts parsley 2 parts thyme 1 part rosemary Pinch nutmeg

Mick Vann ©

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