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Nov 19, 2008 06:44 AM

Gravy Question

I once made a sauce using kneaded butter paste (buerre manie), and it was rich and silky smooth - delicious! I was thinking of trying that technique for my Thanksgiving gravy, but am not sure it will work. Does anyone have thoughts, guidance or recipes on how to employ this technique this holiday season?

Thanks so much!

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  1. I have used that, but there may be no need. Try this instead for gravy: Put the giblets, neck, etc., in a pot with water, an onion, a clove of garlic, a spring of parsley, celery leaves. Simmer covered for a few hours, to make a broth. In the meantime, cook sliced mushrooms in butter in another pot. When your turkey is done and resting on its serving plate, pour off the fat from roasting pan but keep the juices. Put the pan on one or two burners on very low heat, add the turkey broth and scrape up the good stuff on the bottom of the pan. Add the mushrooms, a shot of sherry, keep scraping. Shake up 1/4 cup or so of flour in a covered jar with about 1/2 cup whole milk or cream. Add to the gravy, keep cooking at very low heat to cook the flour, keep stirring, and it will thicken up into the most delicious gravy! If it doesn't thicken enough and you need to add more flour, be sure to shake it up with a bit more milk, then give it time to cook. You should probably not add salt until the very end because you don't know how much salt will be on the bottom of the roasting pan.

    3 Replies
    1. re: somervilleoldtimer

      Wow, that's an interesting technique. Sounds pretty easy, too. Thanks for the tip!

      1. re: somervilleoldtimer

        That sounds delish. I've saved it for TD. Thanks

        1. re: somervilleoldtimer

          That's how roasted-bird gravy was always made in our family. Grandma Owen wasn't big on pan-scraping, so the gravy came out more blond than brown, but was good. I mostly just pour off MOST of the fat, and then while I'm scraping the pan over heat I throw in a tablespoon of flour for each cup of liquid (usually a mixture of broth and milk or cream). When the goodies are all scraped up I pour in the liquid, which will also have the chopped giblets included, and continue the scraping/stirring with a stout wire whisk. The milk/flour method is good, but I like my gravy more interesting than that.

        2. Yes, we've used that technique before (as well as the flour shaken in a jar with some milk recipe). Our preferred technique(s) are using either a schmaltz/turkey fat roux or a schmaltz/turkey fat manee instead of butter.

          9 Replies
          1. re: jazzy77

            Where do you get this Schmaltz stuff?

            1. re: JEN10

              I may be wrong about the Yiddish part, but "schmaltz" is just the Yiddish word for chicken fat. I'm one of those people that uses every part of the bird, so I skim the fat off the top of homemade chicken stock and hoard it away in my freezer. I use it to supplement the fat from the turkey when there isn't enough for roux for the amount of gravy we need. Duck fat is pretty darn good for that too. When there's no schmaltz or duck fat, we use butter.

              1. re: jazzy77

                Thanks for the Yiddish education! I will give it a try.

                1. re: jazzy77

                  More or less correct. Schmaltz is usually used in reference to chicken fat, but it can also be used for other, similar substances like goose fat. And don't forget schmaltz (fatty) herring! It comes from the German word schmalz (also pronounced schmaltz), which means simply fat.

                  Oddly enough, Yiddish speakers don't use it when referring to a person - the Yiddish word for fat in that context is zaftig, which literally means juicy.

                  And that's two Yiddish words for the day!

              2. re: jazzy77

                Does anyone know the advantages / disadvantages of the flour -milk mixture versus the flour-butter paste? I've never worked with the milk slurry before and wonder if that, the butter paste, or regular roux would result in the silkiest texture at the end.

                1. re: jenhen2

                  The "advantage", if you want to call it that, of using the slurry (which my family cooks just called "thickening") is that you can end up with a relatively low-fat gravy. The advantage - and I WILL call it that! - of the beurre manie is that the gravy (or whatever other sauce) is much richer. Please note that the pellets of paste must be stirred into hot liquid if you're doing it right. As for silky smoothness, the richer gravy will of course have the silkier mouth feel, though both would really be equally smooth.

                  1. re: jenhen2

                    Several cookbook authors including Julia Child suggest making a roux with your butter and flour by melting the butter and adding flour and strirring and cooking that that mix to reduce the raw flour taste, you may then put that aside till needed to thicken your gravy or other sauce. Adding raw flour to stock is likely to result in lumps. I do admit to using Wondra occasionally if my gravy or sauce isn't as thick as I would like.

                    1. re: dijon

                      I usually use a beurre manie for gravy, but for Thanksgiving I use equal parts rendered turkey fat and flour to make a roux. Just be careful to skim the fat cleanly for the roux, without getting any broth in it, then add the skimmed broth to the roux in the right proportion to make the gravy (1:1:8; in other words, 2 tbsp fat to 2 tbsp flour to one cup liquid).

                    2. re: jenhen2

                      Well, both methods work to "protect" the starch granules from clumping in hot liquid by surrounding them in fat (which is why you get lumps when you add straight flour to hot liquids), so Will is correct, both will *technically* end up with the same texture, but the fattier sauce will end up tasting silkier because it ultimately has more depth of flavor.

                      My personal favorite gravy recipe is my husband's. He gets as many drippings out of the pan as possible, leaving as much fond (the tasty roasted stuff in the bottom of the pan), and then returns as much turkey fat as possible and makes a roux. If he needs more fat to make a roux he'll add schmaltz, butter, or even olive oil to the roux mixture. He then adds the stock plus any additional stock necessary to make the desired amount of gravy. Then he adds a touch (maybe a tablespoon) of dry vermouth to make it interesting. Thicken and add seasonings (salt, pepper, more vermouth) to make everything taste nice. And then at the end he adds a pat of butter to mount the sauce (it's supposed to make it silkier and shiny, but I've never done a comparison either way).

                  2. I wouldn't bother with it.

                    I would use the extra goodies like the neck and wing tips for a stock. Then after the bird comes out, I take the fat/juice and pour it into a sauce pan. Add flour to make a roux. You can always scrape out the roasting plan like mentioned above and then add that to your roux. At the end of you gravy, and this will make it silky, is add some butter. It's called "Mounting" and it makes what was already great, incredible.