With the holidays right around the corner, no doubt you’re scouring your recipe book for the perfect gravy recipe. Growing up, I remember watching my mother make homemade gravy over the stove, carefully portioning out each ingredient to create the smoothest, most flavorful gravy. Now that I’m making holiday dinners for my own family, I’m really putting the things I learned from her into practice, especially when it comes to making flawless gravy.
If you don’t make gravy at home all the time, don’t worry! It’s not as hard as you might think. There are so many tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years, not only from my mother, but also from our visitors here at CHEFScatalog.com. All it takes is a little time and preparation beforehand.
The Best Gravy Begins with Flavorful Drippings
No matter what your cooking style, it’s universally agreed that the best turkey gravy is made from the turkey drippings straight out of the oven; and maximizing the flavor from your drippings is the first step in making flawless gravy. My mother always used the drippings from our Thanksgiving Day turkey, but our resourceful readers (like Judie S. and Stephen B.) tipped me off to the fact that you can buy economical turkey wings from the grocery store weeks before, roast those with large chunks of onion, and drain off the juices to make even more gravy than you’d have with just the one turkey. We all know how important it is to have enough gravy for everyone at dinner!
For even more flavorful gravy, Betty S. suggests using equal parts apple cider (with alcohol content!) and turkey drippings. Or do as Patricia C. suggests and use 2 cups of wine and 2 sticks of butter in the turkey cavity. The result? Flavorful drippings for delicious gravy!
How to Make Gravy Using a Roux
For many cooks, the hardest part of making gravy is creating a smooth roux—the mixture of flour and fat that thickens the gravy. The trick is to blend ingredients quickly and completely with a whisk or spoon.
Here are the basic steps for making a roux-based gravy. A flat whisk is designed for gravy and sauce making. If you own one, now's the time to use it.
1. Remove the turkey or roast from the roasting pan. Pour the pan drippings and fat into a large measuring cup or fat separator and let sit for a few minutes. When the fat has separated from the drippings, pour the fat into a separate container.
2. Set the roasting pan or a saucepan on your stove and turn heat to low. Add about 1/4 cup of fat into the pan. When the fat is warm, sprinkle about 1/4 to 1/3 cup flour into the pan. With a whisk or spoon, quickly stir the flour into the fat, forming a smooth, thick paste. If the paste is too cakey, mix in more fat, a teaspoon at a time. Continue to stir the roux. Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes to remove the raw flour taste. The roux will also begin to brown.
3. Add 1 cup of turkey drippings into the roux. Whisk or stir until smooth.
4. Stir in 1 cup of broth, stock or water. Cook for several minutes. Gravy will begin to thicken. If the gravy gets too thick, stir in more stock or water, a few tablespoons at a time. If the gravy is too thin, make a slurry by mixing 2 or 3 tablespooons of flour with enough water to form a thin paste. Stirring constantly, slowly drizzle the slurry into the gravy.
5. Taste the gravy and add salt or pepper to taste. If the gravy lacks flavor, add more drippings a tablespoon at a time. Serve hot in a gravy boat.
Looking for a shortcut? Instead of carefully adding flour to the fat when making the roux, I’ve found that adding a flour slurry (in which you put the flour and your wet ingredient—either water, wine or milk—in a jar and shake it until completely mixed together) to the fat ensures that you have zero flour lumps in the roux.
If you don’t have enough time to stand over the stove browning your roux to the perfect darkness, then Gwen E. suggests putting the whole mixture in a non-plastic microwavable bowl, heating it for 7 minutes on high, stirring, and then heating continually in one minute intervals until it reaches the desired color. Definitely a huge time saver!
So what are you waiting for? It’s time to grab your favorite sauce pan and make your own flawless gravy for this holiday season. Let us know how it turns out!
Many of us learn best by watching others demonstrate cooking techniques. These short videos from Fine Cooking magazine will help you master the art of making roux and homemade gravy.
How to Make Gravy for Roast Turkey - from the Fine Cooking Test Kitchen
The Trick to Lump-Free Gravy - from the Fine Cooking Test Kitchen
Your Turn: When it comes to Thanksgiving gravy, do you like it with or without giblets?