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Nov 13, 2009 10:25 AM

Gravy good enough to drink: what makes your mostly classic turkey gravy special?

Mr. JudiAU and I test-roasted a turkey earlier this week because we haven't cooked one before. A combo spatchcock-Zuni dry brine produced terrific results and it only took an hour and ten minutes!

I made a simple gray by deglazing the dripping pan with white wine and a little cognac and adding it to turkey stock prepared in advance, a bit or cream, thickened with a bit of flour, and some thyme. Toddler JudiAU drank a bowl. =)

It was superb on its own and very good the potatoes but somewhat diluted. I am going to tinker with it before the big day.

So-- what additions make your gravy special, assuming it is made in the mostly classic way.

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  1. My goto recipe here is Paul Prudhomme's Spiced Pear Gravy for Fowl. The pear reduction allows me to more than double the volume of gravy made from the fond -- and you know there is never enough gravy! As with most of his recipes, you have to modify the fat and sugar content to avoid becoming his body shape, and reduce the pepper for the sake of your guests!

    The crux of the recipe is to take 4 cups of ripe pears, peeled, cored and cubed, combine with sugar and water and reduce it down to a caramelized paste - the darker the caramel the better. That can be done well in advance. Then, after the pan has been deglazed, work the caramelized pears into the gravy with plenty of stock. The sugars also help thicken the gravy, so you'll need less flour. This would work well with the gravy base you describe.

    2 Replies
    1. re: BernalKC

      I have nothing to add except that I'm watching this thread like a hawk. I don't eat gravy. EVERYONE else invited does and I can't make it to save a day. So! Please! let's keep this alive!

      It comes down to someone else offering to make the gravy when I have a pan w/ giblets and drippings in a pan and a really stupid look on my face with a whisk in hand!

      1. re: JerryMe

        The Martha Stewart website has a traditional recipe and video on it. Although, she calls for a LOT of marsala which sounds very strong.

    2. My "secret" ingredient is soy sauce. After I make the gravy and taste it, if it's a bit bland, I find a good splash of soy gives it the depth and umami that is missing.

      1 Reply
      1. re: TorontoJo

        I forgot to mention that I also throw a dozen or so shallots into the roasting pan with the turkey. After roasting, I puree the shallots and mix the puree in with the gravy. It gives a wonderful deep flavor. Other details include dry sherry to deglaze the roasting pan and thickening with a roux made from turkey fat and flour. No raw flour or cornstarch.

      2. I thicken mine with beurre manie. So rich and delicious this way, more so (I think) than thickening with just cornstarch. Not too much salt, but I don't skimp on the thyme and sage, which is what seasons my turkey.

        DH will eat this out of the pan with a spoon as if it was soup.

        1. I like to add the cooked chopped gizzards and liver to the gravy, made the classical way; with sage and thyme, a bit of lemon and a few garlic cloves simmered in the turkey stock. Brandy and heavy cream finish it off.

          1. I think the key is in the stock.

            I always make sure I've made a good stock from the carcass of a free-range chicken. I do this well in advance and freeze it. Then it's just the pan juices, a bit of flour and the stock - finished with a good splash of dry sherry to give it a final lift.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Harters

              I agree the key is in the stock, which I also make ahead, but from turkey wings and necks (available cheap around here in the supermarket), plus the usual aromatics, caramelized in a hot oven before putting into the stockpot. The stock should be richly gelatinous and your gravy will be scrumptious. (Was interested to read the OP's separate spatchcocked turkey report.)