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How do you make your gravy?

My gravy every Thanksgiving is either so-so or tastes just plain weird. What are some of your tricks that you use for making gravy? Flour? Corn-starch? Reduced turkey broth? Please share :)

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  1. Last week I purchased 4 turkey legs. They went into a 450 degree oven, along with chunks of carrot, celery and onion (turned once). Then into the large crock pot and covered with cold water. Added a few peppercorns, a bay leaf, a few sprigs of thyme and a small handful of kosher salt. Cooked on low all day. Strained, chilled in an ice water bath, then into the fridge overnight. Skimmed fat, put in Ziploc freezer bags, then into the freezer.

    The day before T-day, I'll put the bags in the fridge to start thawing. While bird is roasting, make a roux, using 1 1/2 T. butter and 1 1/2 T. flour per cup of stock. Cook flour in melted butter over medium heat for 2 minutes. Slowly whisk in stock. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer until thick. Adjust seasonings, If you end up with some lumps, strain and return gravy to pot.

    When the turkey is done, pour off all the fat and deglaze the pan with a little bit of water. Pour the resulting brown deliciousness into the gravy. Check again for seasoning.

    7 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Only thing I'd add to this most excellent method is to make sure and deglaze the roasting pan to get all the brown bits before it goes into the crockpot. Also, I prefer no bay leaf, but since I started doing this I have had really great gravy and for once in my life, enough gravy. And since it does not depend on a large turkey, you can do it all year round. No mashed potato need ever be gravy-less.

      And, of course, the actual Thanksgiving day turkey roasting pan can be deglazed with a little liquid and the resulting liquid added to the gravy or frozen for the next time.

      1. re: sheiladeedee

        Deglaze with bourbon. I got the idea from the picture of a turkey on the bottle.

        1. re: eLizard

          Ah, if you're asking how long I roast the turkey, that's a whole nother ball of wax.

        2. re: pikawicca

          I save all the necks, wings, etc from my chickens and turkeys for a few months before Thanksgving.
          About two weeks before T-day I cook off a hotel cut turkey breast, we have it for dinner and then sandwiches.
          I defrost all my saved poultry parts and put them into the roasting pan my turkey just came out of, with about 4 cups of mirepoix ( 2 parts onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot), and roast that all off until everything is nicely browned and the veg have started to get a bit tender.
          Everything goes into a stock pot,including the giblets and the new turkey carcass, covered with water, some thyme, parsley, sage, and rosemary go in with it and it all simmers for about 4 hours. I also am sure to deglaze the roasting pan.

          I chill and remove all the fat from the stock, the second day I reduce it until it has good strong flavor, season with salt and pepper, strain it and freeze it. I save about a cup of the turkey fat as well. I freeze that serarately.

          The day of Thanksiving I take my stock, heat it and using a second large sauce pan, I melt about 1/2 of a cup of the turkey fat, making a roux with a 1/2 cup flour that I cook til it is golden brown. A brown roux has more flavor but less thickening qualities, so make I make a bit more than you think you need. Then I slowly whisk in the warm stock, until I have a pan of the most amazing gravy, usually around two quarts or so.

          When my Turkey is done, I remove it from the pan, set it aside to rest, and if I have cooked it over a pan and not over stuffing, I deglaze the pan, strain and skim the drippings and add those to the gravy.

          We have enough gravy for the dinner, and all the leftovers, and I have never made such good gravy.

          1. While our stuffed turkey is roasting, I simmer the neck, liver and giblets in a saucepan with 3 cups water and celery, onion, bay leaf, a little salt and peppercorns to make a light turkey stock/broth....when turkey is done roasting, I remove it from the roasting pan and pour off all of the liquid drippings into a large glass measuring cup. I then spoon off all of the fat which separates from the solids/juices on the bottom, reserving about 1/4 cup of the fat. In the roasting pan over medium heat, I add in about 1/4 cup of the reserved turkey fat and add about 1/4 cup of flour to make my roux. Stir that and cook it for a few minutes, then I add in the reserved solids/juices from the glass measuring cup, then I add in the light turkey broth/stock I made from the neck and giblets. I do add in the finely chopped cooked giblets, we love them but not everyone does. I cook that all over medium or medium high til it comes to a boil and then let it thicken up...now, depending on how many of us there are, I will add some commercial turkey gravy from a jar to stretch it, usually only one jar. I know that it's blasphemy to most but it works for little old us. Of course, it is probably a lot easier to buy some turkey wings and make the stock a few days before Thanksgiving...but I do like using the giblets taken from the bag inside the turkey, too.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Val

              This is how Mom make it and EVERYONE says she makes the best turkey gravy...

              1. re: Val

                My Mom always did it this same way. I copy a bit, but cook the 'guts' with chunked up onion, celery, carrot (toss them later) - I also skim the funky brown floaties, can't remember if Mom had them or skimmed them but I do...

              2. I boil my giblets in water seasoned with pepper, onion powder, garlic powder and celery salt. The giblets I use for dressing. The remaining giblet broth I save for gravy, and I save my potato water.

                When my turkey is finished I take it out of the roasting pan and drain all the drippings and grease into a gravy separator. I use the same roasting pan to add flower, butter and some turkey grease to make a roux. Once the roux has turned a nice dark peanut butter color I add the potato water and the giblet water and whisk well. Then the reserve drippings are added. S&P to taste...my gravy comes out a lovely dark carmel color and it is loaded with flavor and it is simply wonderful.

                2 Replies
                1. re: FoodChic

                  Your method and mine are very similar, except we love the giblets in the gravy...my mother used to grind them up with one of those grinders that attach to the counter or kitchen table...I just finely chop them while the turkey is still roasting...it's hard not to eat them as I chop them up!

                  1. re: Val

                    They are very similar, Val. I puree my giblets for my dressing,but I bet they are wonderful in the gravy! My Thanksgiving dinner is largely the same way my great grandmother made it.

                2. I use the roasting pan, once the turkey is removed, with all the fat that has cooked out of the turkey. Lay it across two burners, add flour and cook. Then I add premade turkey stock similar to pikawikka. The roasted turkey drippings and chunks make gravy with nice bits. This year, I think I'll add cloves of garlic to the roasting pan half an hour before the turkey is done and have roasted garlic gravy. Another thing I've done is added some of the drippings to the mashed potatoes.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: chowser

                    I do something similar, except I add some brandy after the flour has been incorporated.

                  2. Here's an excellent recipe for a gravy you make completely ahead of time. In order to get the benefit of the turkey drippings, I'll do as pikawicca does and deglaze the pan with a bit of water and add that to the finished gravy.


                    4 Replies
                    1. re: JoanN

                      Thanks everyone for your tips! I think part of my problem was separating the pan juices with the fat. It seems like we always have so much fat so that I cant taste anything in the gravy. I bought myself one of those seperators things....but I think I will try to make it ahead of time since Im off of work (for once!).

                      :) I never used giblets and I miss the way my mom would add it to her stuffing and gravy. Maybe I can sneak it in when my husband isnt looking ;)

                      1. re: jenwee


                        I puree my giblets with a bit of the juice in the blender and my DH has no idea they are in the dressing. Might be a good way to add to your gravy.

                        1. re: FoodChic

                          ooh! Thanks for the tip! I might be able to sneak that past him :) :)

                      2. re: JoanN

                        I like to deglaze with white wine or vermouth for a richer flavor.And I add a splash of milk at the end for a creamier gravy, since I don't like to add any fat back in..
                        I can't imagine trying to make gravy without my Pyrex separator (if that's what it's called). That's a major help.

                      3. Before I start preparing the turkey, I cut up the giblets & neck and brown them in a medium pot. Once they're a little crisp and most of the red is gone, I add water and boil. This will stay on the stove on simmer - I add water to the pot as needed.

                        Then, I chop up lots of onions, celery and carrots and cover the pan. Any garlic, herbs, salt and pepper that fall off the turkey while I'm seasoning it are welcome. After the turkey has roasted about 10 or 15 minutes, I add wine to the pan - white, red, dry, sweet - whatever I feel like that day - I think about a cup. Every 15 minutes to 1/2 hour, I'll add some giblet liquid to the pan - I don't want everything to dry up and burn, but I don't want the liquid to get too deep.

                        When the turkey's done, I move it to a platter, and start to deal with the gravy. I pour the veggies and pan drippings into a strainer over a large pot. Then I deglaze the pan with a little water and pour it over the veggies. If there's any giblet liquid left, I'll pour that over the veggies to get off some of the fat. I pour the liquid into a fat strainer - often in a couple of passes (if I have more liquid than the strainer holds). The veggies go back into the pot, and the defatted liquid goes in too. I put it all back on to boil - adding water if it's too thick (rarely) or cooking it down if it's too thin.

                        After the turkey's carved (we do it before company comes - one less thing to do when they get to my house), I pour whatever juice is on the plate into the pot of gravy.

                        My gravy is flavorful, almost fat free, but very vegy - everyone seems to like it. I don't serve the giblets. There's not much left to them after their long boil.

                        I use this method (though without the pot of giblets) for chicken too - that's how I started doing it.

                        3 Replies
                        1. re: amymsmom

                          Brilliant! Just what I was looking for. The only difference is I boil my neck, giblets in chicken stock.

                          But, what is this separator thing? Can't i just put it in a quart measuring cup and skim off the fat that rises?

                          1. re: pastoralia

                            It takes too long to skim the fat when everyone's waiting to eat. With the separator it takes 5 seconds.

                            1. re: pastoralia

                              A good way to get the fat out if you don't want to use a fat separator is to pour the juices and drippings into a clear measuring cup, then use your turkey baster to remove the non-fatty portion from the bottom of the cup. You can easily see the fat floating on the top, so it's easy to do.

                          2. open up a jar of heinz gravy, heat and pour over those "yummy" instant potatoes.. ;-)

                            just kidding of course.

                            I always have home-made turkey, or chicken stock on hand either in the freezer, or fridge so that part is easy.

                            I remove the turkey from the roasting pan, and place the pan on the burners, and put both burners on medium, I then deglaze the pan with dry sherry, and the pan drippings, scraping up the brown bits. I sprinkle in the appropriate flour, and whisk. As soon as the flour has cooked for a couple of minutes, I start adding in my stock, I also , I also add some unsalted butter to the gravy when it is finishing. I also pour any of the juces that have accumulated in the plate the turey is resting on into the gravy. I then cut up the giblets, put them in the gravy boats, and top with the rich gravy and serve.

                            This is the method I use for all roasts(obviously no giblets with a pork, or beef roast) and the gravy they are served with

                            1. I just say "Doug take care of the gravy." He is the master of perfect gravy.

                              I have purchased turkey wings in advance and roasted them in advance of the day to make stock for the gravy. My dogs like the treat of the meat and there is no last minute hurry up to get the bird roasted and the gravy made. I also roast the wings with carrots, onions, celery and some fresh sage to add flavor.But after that the gravy is in my DH's hands.

                              1. There are a lot of great sounding recipes here, and they all seem to be roux-thickened. Is there a big disadvantage to using a cornstarch slurry thickener when making a gravy? In the past my roux-based gravies have been about 50/50 good/lousy, but if roux is much better than cornstarch I'll devote the effort to mastering it.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                  I've made a wonderful roasted garlic/herb gravy that uses no thickeners at all. During the last hour of turkey roasting I toss in the pan a couple of carrots, a couple of stalks of celery, and 2 heads of peeled garlic. When I take the turkey out to rest, I toss the carrots and celery in a blender with 8 cups of hot stock (I need to do it in two batches). Then I add about half the garlic cloves, puree again, and taste to see if I should add even more garlic. Then I taste for S&P, and add parsley, chives, and savory.

                                  This is a much lighter gravy than a roux-based one and my family likes it a great deal for just that reason. As with so much of the Thanksgiving meal, it depends on what your family is used to and what they expect.

                                  1. re: RealMenJulienne

                                    Most traditional american gravies are roux-based. Not all, though. For those that are thickened by adding flour to the stock and simmering (I think midwestern milk gravies tend to be this style?) you could use corn starch. But in general, a good roux will add some flavor of its own, so corn starch would be a major step down.

                                    I'm planning on serving chicken with a gravy made from a browned roux and using coffee to deglaze the pan, that being the most american gravy variant I know of. I had to go to a specialty store to track down bland american coffee -- too bad I don't have a percolator to make it in.

                                    1. re: tmso

                                      I am trying to formulate a plan for my Turkey and Gravy. I have no reserved wings but Wednesday when the Turkey goes in the brine( I always brine my turkey) I will remove the neck and giblets and such I am thinking I will cook them either that night in water or part water and broth. Or I will cook it after the bird goes in the oven. I know I wan to use Bon Appetit's recipe for Caramelized Onion Gravy as everyone loves caramelized onions.

                                      * 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
                                      * 1 1/2 pounds onions, chopped
                                      * 4 cups (about) Golden Turkey Stock
                                      * 1/2 cup all purpose flour


                                      Melt butter in medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions; sauté 5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook until onions are deep brown, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes. Set aside.

                                      Remove turkey neck, heart, and gizzard from roasting pan. Pull meat off neck; chop neck meat, heart, and gizzard and reserve for gravy, if desired. Pour pan juices into 8-cup measuring cup. Spoon off fat from surface, reserving 1/2 cup fat. Add enough turkey stock to degreased pan juices to measure 5 1/2 cups total.

                                      Place roasting pan over 2 burners on medium heat. Add 1/2 cup reserved fat and 1/2 cup flour to pan. Whisk until roux is light brown, about 2 minutes. Whisk in stock mixture. Bring to boil, scraping up browned bits and whisking. Boil until gravy coats spoon, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Add chopped neck, heart, and gizzard, if desired. Season with salt and pepper.

                                      I plan to do the onions like the recipe says but i will be cooking the neck and stuff in water/broth and use that stock after I make the roux from the roasting pan and add in the onions and the stock made from the neck and gizzards and I will chop up the neck and gizzards and add that in to.

                                    2. re: RealMenJulienne

                                      A roux can add not only thickening but also flavor, if a roux is allowed to brown up to the color of hazelnuts or darker, it adds more of a toasty, nutty flavor, cornstarch just adds thickening, no flavor.

                                      If you make your roux using clear turkey fat instead of butter, you will add an immense amount of flavor to your gravy

                                      1. re: gardencub

                                        wish me luck tomorrow! I have my stock ready to go.........I really hope I can pull it off. :)

                                        1. re: jenwee

                                          you will be just fine. a few things to remember,
                                          Measure the amount of liquid you need to thicken and adjust your roux or other thickener accordingly.
                                          If your gravy is a bit thick you can thin with wine, more stock, or water, if it has enough flavor.
                                          Don't panic or stress, it is just food, not brain surgery.

                                          1. re: gardencub

                                            I try to keep a jar of Better than Bouillon Turkey base in the fridge for enhancing gravy when needed - and for making more gravy when the gravy:leftovers ratio needs balancing!

                                    3. I make turkey stock in advance from extra turkey necks I buy just for this purpose -- so much good flavor from the dark meat and all those little bones. I throw in a quartered onion, celery tops, a bay leaf, peppercorns and salt. Strain, refrigerate and skim the fat. For a beautifully rich gravy, I brown the flour lightly before adding an equal amount of turkey fat from the pan drippings (never butter) to make the roux. I know the roux could cook longer to develop the color and flavor, but my method works best for me in terms of time on T-Day. To the roux I first add the reserved pan drippings, discarding or setting aside for future use any remaining fat not used for the roux. Then I add enough turkey stock to reach the proper consistency, whisking like mad. I use a big stockpot so I can whisk with abandon without making a bigger mess than I already have! I make two quarts of gravy, so I start with a cup of browned flour and a cup of turkey fat -- that's still only two Tablespoons per cup of gravy in case that sounds excessive, so follow that basic ratio for the quantity you need. Any leftover gravy goes in the turkey-frame/wild rice/mushroom soup I make the Saturday after Thanksgiving.

                                      I loved reading this thread - so many good ways to make gravy!

                                      1. I simmer the giblets and neck with a bit of onion and celery while the turkey is cooking. The giblet broth gets added to the pan drippings, and thicken the liquid by adding a mixture of butter and flour, creamed together. The giblet stock produces a larger volume without sacrificing taste (we really like gravy) and thickening with the flour and butter makes a really rich gravy.

                                        1. My mom makes a slurry with flour & water & shakes them up in a jar till smooth & slowly adds it to the broth. is this more fail safe or is the roux method better?

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: sparkareno

                                            Personally, I think the slurry lends a more raw flour taste...it's effective, no doubt, and thickening happens but when you go with the roux method, the flour is cooked in the fat first, which to me tastes richer and smoother. Just my 2 cents.

                                            1. re: Val

                                              Thanks--maybe I'll go that route this year. Should the broth be hot or cold or doesn't it matter when i pour it in to the roux?

                                              1. re: sparkareno

                                                Heh, my broth is always just at room temp at that point (because I derive my broth from the neck & giblets which have been cooked earlier and by the time I'm making the gravy, the broth has been strained and the neck & finely chopped giblets are sitting in it to keep from drying out)...not sure what the really proper answer would be.

                                          2. Am I the only one who puts chopped hard boiled egg in their gravy? This was how we did it in Texas, in my family. Giblets, of course went in.
                                            I fixed Thanksgiving dinner for my SO's kids and her brother and she and her brother thought giblets were disgusting. They wanted plain gravy made with flour!
                                            I cooked down the smoked neck, gizzard and heart, drained off the liquid, then added the turkey's pan drippings, cornstarch, pepper, seasoned salt and chipotle. It was not bad, but certainly not what I was used to...

                                            14 Replies
                                            1. re: Scargod

                                              I have never heard of hard-boiled egg in gravy.

                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                my mom -- from the florida panhandle -- did the chopped egg in gravy thing.

                                              2. re: Scargod

                                                I had that last year when I was living in Texas. It scared me and my husband since we are from the east coast. It tasted ok.....but I think its a Texas thing :)

                                                1. re: jenwee

                                                  How could it scare you? Eggs are in all kinds of stuff. For instance they are commonly put atop Mexican enchiladas and dropped into Asian food or placed atop Italian Veal Saltimboca. Not to mention being in salads...

                                                2. re: Scargod

                                                  I value your insightful comments :) My mother also put hardboiled eggs and giblets in her gravy. I could spot the liver pieces and avoid those. I don't remember that I especially liked it but that's what she fixed and that's what I ate. I kinda like plain gravy better.
                                                  Edit: This was a reply to Scargod though it doesn't show it here.

                                                    1. re: pikawicca

                                                      Nope. Thomasville, GA, which is almost down to the Florida border. I seem to think both sides of the family (all from GA) made it this way.

                                                      1. re: pikawicca

                                                        I just googled and there were loads of references to this type of gravy.

                                                        1. re: c oliver

                                                          I've led a charmed existence -- never encountered this stuff. I love hard-boiled eggs, but can't imagine them in gravy.

                                                          1. re: pikawicca

                                                            I value your inciteful comments and lord knows you know a lot about food and can incite. This gravy is good. Trust me and try it!

                                                            1. re: Scargod

                                                              You've incited me to try this, although my family won't touch it -- they hate hard-boiled eggs. Maybe I'll make some of this gravy and have it on toast for lunch.

                                                              1. re: pikawicca

                                                                I at first thought that It sounded very different, however, I sure don't mind eating breakfast such as chicken fried steak and eggs, and the eggs manage to get into the gravy. And then the time I was at my Italian friends house. They served a pasta dish with sausage and meatballs and hard boiled eggs that are placed into the marinara sauce. At first I was unsure. But it didn't take me long I used the eggs to scoop up sauce, it was more than fine.

                                                                Now do we chop the eggs into the gravy, serve them over the gravy or slice them for the top?

                                                                1. re: chef chicklet

                                                                  For turkey gravy we minced them to about 1/4" size and mix in after thickening.

                                                    2. Thanks all. This thread was helpful. I decided to make a roux instead of my mom's slurry and I think that contributed to the flavor. I was shocked though with how long it took to thicken and come together flavor wise. I ended up cooking for almost an hour. Really glad I made the stock in advance, used that to simmer the neck and giblets, and then made the basic gravy to which I added the pan juices and deglazed fond.

                                                      Good stuff.

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: JudiAU

                                                        thanks to this thread I too was going to deviate from the slurry & do a roux. Unfortunately my fried made the turkey in a non stick pan and there was no fond so I stuck to my slurry method. I did add a little apple cider to the finished gravy and it gave a real nice almost barely there sweetness.