Making Gravy Ahead of Time
I'm a pretty experienced cook and have been doing Thanksgiving dinners for our family for a number of years. Everything flows along pretty well until it comes time to make gravy. I'm fine when making it for a small group, but there's something about the vibe in my kitchen on Thanksgiving Day that makes me nutty and I feel like I totally forget how to do it. May have something to do with my Mom and Mother-in-Law hovering even though they are both dear people. Anyway, I came across a recipe of Ina Garten's that they use at Barefoot Contessa for making gravy ahead of time. She suggests using chicken broth and you can always add some pan juices to the made in advance stuff. Anyone have any experience with this recipe or doing anything like it? I'd hate for it to fail.
Absolutely make the gravy ahead of time. Often I have turkey stock in the freezer but not this year. So I made chicken stock w/ some inexpensive legs, onions, celery, etc. I will make the standard roux-based gravy using the chicken stock, except leave it a little bit thicker than desired. Then, when your turkey is resting, re-heat the gravy, add the juices (not the fat) from the pan, adjust seasoning and voila! If it is still too thick, add more stock, water, sherry, etc.
I started making my gravy ahead of time a couple of years ago to reduce the T'giving day load. What a relief!
I buy turkey parts for stock - wings, a thigh, extra giblets - roast them, and use the pan drippings to make a roux for gravy and the parts to make stock for the gravy.
On T'giving Day, when the big turkey is done, I drain the roasting pan, skim the fat off the drippings, deglaze the roasting pan with stock, return the rest of the drippings to the pan, add the pre-made gravy and simmer everything together for a few minutes to combine, adding extra stock as needed.
You can just adapt your favorite gravy recipe to this method.
I'm with you. I don't have anyone hovering, but I don't like rushing to make gravy when I'm trying to get everything else on the table. Don't know the Ina Garten recipe, but here's one (that I believe I originally found on Chowhound a number of years ago) that I like a great deal. I make only about a third or half the amount of stock with 2 or 3 drumsticks. It's plenty.
6 turkey drumsticks
1/2 c. butter
c. water (1/2-3/4 cup probably plenty for deglazing)
1 medium onions, stuck with 2 cloves
3 large carrots
4 stalks celery
2 bay leaves
For Gravy: (This makes one recipe. You should have enough stock to make two or three recipes if desired.)
1⁄2 c. turkey fat from the deglazing liquid – add butter if needed
4 c. heated stock
6-8 tbsp flour
salt and pepper
1. Oven 325. Place drumsticks in roasting pan and baste w/ some butter. Roast 2 hours, basting w/ butter.
Remove drumsticks to a pot. Deglaze roaster on stovetop w/ the water. Pour deglazing liquid into a bowl and refrigerate.
2. Add onions & vegetables & bay to drumsticks and cover with water. Simmer, covered, 6 hours over low heat, adding more water if needed to keep drumsticks mostly covered. The stock should be golden brown.
3. Reserve stock and cool. Refrigerate and defat.
4. Separate turkey fat from deglazing liquid. Heat 1/2 c. fat, adding butter if needed. Heat stock. Add flour to fat and whisk 2 min. Remove from heat, add stock and whisk. (She says to add all the stock at once and whisk gradually, whisking continuously, until it comes together. When gravy is smooth, return it to medium-high heat and whisk until thickened. Thin with stock or sherry if needed. Season with salt and pepper. Freezes well.
Here's the Ina Garten recipe. It's from her "Family Style" cookbook. Kitchen Basics makes a boxed turkey stock that I used for some things last year and thought it was pretty good. I was thinking that could be subbed for the chicken broth in Ina's recipe.