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Nov 21, 2004 09:32 AM

Do You Add Wine To Your Turkey Gravy?

  • f

Last year I used a recipe which added Sercial Madiera to the gravy. Some recipes call for a dry white wine to be used to deglaze the pan.

If you use white wine, which varietal do you prefer?

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  1. In Wednesday's LA Times Food Section, they had a good article on deglazing the turkey pan to make sauce as an alternate to gravy, with various recommendations as to what wines/cognacs, etc. work well. I've linked the article below. The LA Times does require registration, but it's free.


    8 Replies
    1. re: DanaB

      The main conceptual difference between the sauce in the LA Times article and my gravy is that I do use flour as a thickener, cooked to a nice golden brown in a roux.

      But we have a big family, so a nice little demi-glace won't go very far, so the juices and broths and flavoring agents don't get cooked down to thicken them.

      I am always baffled by people who can't make a savory gravy. All it takes is a good roux, and a little stiff wrist action with a whisk when adding the liquids.

      I can't even fathom using arrowroot or corn starch. Why on earth? And turkey gravy does NOT want milk. Or cream.

      1. re: Ilaine

        Well, a celiac guest at your Thanksgiving table would appreciate a gravy or sauce made without wheat flour for thickening, so that he could have some, too. This is the situation at our house.

        1. re: Jeremy Newel

          OK, but there's a big difference between not using flour for health reasons, and not using flour because you don't know how to handle it properly.

          For someone who can't handle gluten, I'd pass the baby onions. These are small onions, pearls or boilers, browned in a combo of butter and olive oil until they are quite brown, then simmered in beef broth with the lid slightly ajar until the onions are done and the broth is syrupy. This makes a lovely sauce for meats.

          We make it for every special feast day.

          1. re: Ilaine

            Thanks for the onion recipe. I do bittersweet onions, but I like the savoriness of your recipe.

        2. re: Ilaine

          What is the difference (in the end) between using Arrowroot & Flour?

          Can you make a roux with Arrowroot as the starch, or is Flour the only starch that works?

          1. re: Funwithfood

            I don't think you can make a roux with arrowroot or corn starch.

            1. re: Funwithfood

              You would use flour to make a roux. With arrowroot and cornstarch, you would mix it with cold water to make a slurry.

              1. re: cornflower

                FWIW, I make a slurry w/ flour. Agree that cornstarch makes a rather icky gravy.

        3. French (Noilly Prat) dry vermouth. It's reliable and balanced in a way other vermouths and whites are not reliably.

          Just be sure to add wine the proper sequence to cook the alcohol out of it; a whiff of alcohol is unpleasant in sauce.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Karl S.

            YES, I always use vermouth in gravy, it's fantastic. Not this time though, I have a recovering alcoholic amoungst the group.

          2. I use red wine. A big bodied fruity California red. Merlot or Pinot Noir, whichever. We drink both with Thanksgiving dinner, too.

            To me, turkey isn't about the white meat. I like the legs and thighs and the meat on the back, all of which is dark. So, we get free range turkeys.

            The gravy doesn't really need much wine, though, because turkey meat is more delicate than beef.

            I simmer the neck, tail, and organs in a little pot with water, onion, celery, carrot and parsley for maybe an hour. I shred the neck meat, which always goes into the gravy, and chop the organ meat, and make two tureens of gravy, one with organ meat, one without.

            I make a medium golden brown roux using olive oil or turkey fat, and unbleached white flour. Into this goes the turkey broth, plus chicken broth, and turkey drippings.

            The wine is used to deglaze the turkey roasting pan after the turkey drippings are poured into a separating pitcher.

            Last year, we smoked the turkey outside in an offset smoker, using natural charcoal and fruit wood, usually cherry wood, so there were no drippings. But after we let the turkey "rest" on a large wooden cutting board, there was turkey juice, so we threw that into the gravy.

            1. I've used both white and red wines for gravy, depending on the flavor I'm trying to achieve. I usually just put a splash of whatever I'm serving w/ the meal. If using red, I've also added a splash of balsamic.

              1. We actually make a basting sauce of white wine (one bottle of dry, usually sauvingon blanc but also chardonnay works, too). Melt 1-2 sticks of butter together, add 1 bottle wine. Dip a square of cheesecloth in and let drain a bit, place over the breast. Keeps it moist and from over browning. Near the end of the cooking process, remove the cloth and let the breast brown. You have pan drippings, butter and wine already blended, ready to turn into gravy. No additional flavoring needed or added at last minute. We love it as this adds to the liquid volume and lets us make mo' gravy.

                2 Replies
                1. re: berkleybabe

                  I remember seeing Martha Stewart use that technique, but I always pictured the cheesecloth sticking to the turkey. Do you have problems with that? (How does the cheesecloth stay moist in a hot oven? just curious)

                  1. re: Funwithfood

                    I baste occasionally and during the last hour or so, I lift the cheesecloth away some from the skin and baste so that it does not stick on there.