No matter how simple or gourmet your holiday dinner, there is one sauce you’ll serve this Thanksgiving that makes all the difference: thick, rich gravy. Great gravy is created through layer upon layer of flavor, and though complexity is the end result, eating is simple comfort.
The Foundation: Homemade stock
Your work starts this weekend with a brown turkey stock. Buy the cheapest turkey parts you can, roast them away and simmer them with roast aromatics for several hours. Too busy? Let your stock simmer away on the stove Saturday afternoon while the Ohio State University kicks Indiana’s butt all over the football field (my husband made me say that). Here’s the recipe.
Building flavor: Roasting your turkey
The next step is to capture all the amazing flavor created while you roast your turkey. I layer thick slices of onion, along with halved carrots, celery ribs and chopped tart apple in the bottom of my roasting pan. I add about 1/2″ of dry white wine, and baste the turkey every 20 minutes or so. When your turkey comes out you’ll have a pan full of deliciousness.
This is the final step. Skim the fat from your roasting pan, deglaze the pan with white wine, brandy and cider, then reduce loads of stock by half. Finally, whisk in a slurry of cold stock and flour, and let it cook away until the floury taste is gone and the gravy is thick, rich and ready to pour over turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and anything else on your Thanksgiving plate.
That’s it. Layer upon layer of flavor gives you amazing, rich, complex gravy. For more specific directions, follow the recipe below.
BONUS: The right roasting pan
Once your turkey comes out of the oven, you’re going to put it over a couple of burners on your stovetop to make gravy. That means you need a heavy bottomed pan. Buy a cheap stock pot (it’s just simmering water after all) and save your pennies for a good roasting pan. Plan on spending about $100-$160.
Thick, rich turkey gravy
For roasting turkey:
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut in 1/2″ thick slices
- 3-4 ribs celery
- 1 large carrot, quartered lengthwise
- 1 tart apple like Stayman, Goldrush, Mutsu or Granny Smith, cut in a 1/2″ dice
- 4 sprigs thyme
- 5-6 parsley stems
- 3-4 cups dry white wine or Vermouth
- 1 cup cider
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 cup brandy or Calvados
- 9 cups turkey stock (watch the video!)
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 tbs butter
- Apple cider vinegar
- Cayenne pepper
- Line your turkey roasting pan with the sliced onion, parsley ribs and carrots. Sprinkle with apple, parsley and thyme. I like to roast my turkey right on the veggies, but you can also you a roasting rack to suspend the turkey above the veggies.
- Add wine, coming up about 1/2″ in the pan.
- Roast your turkey.
- When the turkey comes out of the oven, remove 2/3 of the veggies and save them for when you make stock with your turkey carcass. Tip the pan juices to one end. Let settle for a minute and skim off most of the fat.
- Place roasting pan over two burners on your stove set to medium-high. Add cider, white wine and brandy or Calvados. Cook until reduces to a thick syrup.
- Add 8 cups of stock and reduce to 4 cups. Either chop remaining veggies or process them with an immersion blender to thicken stock.
- If you blend your veggies, the stock may be thick enough. If not, whisk together the flour and remaining cup of stock, creating a slurry.
- Whisk the slurry into the gravy and cook 10-15 minutes until thickened and there is no flavor of raw flour remaining.
- Season gravy to taste with salt, pepper, butter, cider vinegar and a pinch of cayenne.