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Nov 24, 2010 09:46 AM

Gravy Plan- experienced folks please help!

My husband and I are smoking a turkey, so we won't really have drippings to use in gravy. Nevertheless, I'm making a very large amount, like a gallon or more- of gravy to bring to my M.I.L's tomorrow. So I've been cooking the neck (after giving it a gentle roasting) in 2qts of water to try and extract as much flavor as possible. P

Tomorrow I'll sweat onions (shallots are too fancy for this crowd) and I guess I'm supposed to add the contents of that little bag of guts? Sorry to be crass but I have no idea what I'm supposed to do with this. If I make a roux with the fat and chopped giblets, am I supposed to strain them out of the final product or purée? Are they necessary to get that turkey flavor?

So I will use the turkey stock I made and augment it with a high-gelatin chicken stock I have on hand and hope the turkey flavor shines through.

The place where everyone seems to disagree is whether to make a slurry or roux, and different types of thickener. Can anyone make a case for either method? What is better or a gravy that's going to be transported and gently reheated on site?

And this may be a dumb question but should I add pepper?

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  1. If I'm making gravy from the drippings off the bird, still hot and not defatted, I'll use a slurry. I think its too much fat for a roux and you run the risk of your gravy breaking.

    I'm like you in that I am smoking the turkey this year. Well, every year. I found some wings and legs and then roasted them before making a stock. I will defat the stock and use a roux to thicken.

    Good luck, you'll do fine.

    1 Reply
    1. If you don't have drippings/fat for gravy, you can use butter (or olive oil) with the flour to make the roux. I would add some minced herbs to the butter. I never use the giblets or liver, but if I did, I would strain them out. When I made do-ahead gravy for deep-fried turkeys, I used the fat from a roast chicken combined with flour to make the roux, then added chicken stock along with stock made from the turkey neck and/or wings (with celery/carrots/onion). I add both salt and pepper, and sometimes wine, bourbon, or sherry.

      Here's one recipe for a do-ahead gravy for ideas of the technique:

      1. Finely dice the heart and gizzard and include in the gravy - left in or strained at the end is your choice. Giblet gravy, in my experience, leaves them in. Omit the liver - it has too different a flavor of its own. Mom (and now, I) used the liver, diced and sauteed, in the stuffing.

        1 Reply
        1. re: greygarious

          Agree with this. Toss the liver, throw the heart and gizzard in with the neck that you're making stock from. When cooked, remove, cut off any tough bits, and finely dice. Save to add back to final product.

          I use the flour slurry method. Pepper: yes, but not too much. Make sure you add salt near the end, you don't want to have it get saltier as it cooks down.'s important to salt and taste and salt 'til you get it right.

        2. Agree with what the others have said - except for the liver part. I personally think that the liver provides a depth of flavor that the other innards do not. So here is what I do. After you have made the stock (and sometimes, even after I have thickened the gravy) - I would cut up the liver into tiny pieces and saute these in whatever fat you like (some combination of turkey dripping fat/butter/olive oil) until the pieces are cooked through. Pour off all the fat and deglaze with a splash of brandy/cognac. Put a ladleful of the stock into the saute pan and stir to make sure you get the fond (brown bits sticking to the bottom of the pan) mixed in with the stock. Pour it all back into the stock/gravy, heat the gravy as usual before serving. Happy thanksgiving!

          4 Replies
          1. re: cornFusion

            This is all good stuff, unfortunately I don't know which is the liver!

            1. re: iheartcooking

              The gizzards are hardest. The liver is softest. The heart is in-between in texture. feel each one and you should be able to tell them apart easily.

              1. re: iheartcooking

                it's the big, dark red, solid,smooth organ. i usually fry it in tons of butter, puree, and stir it into the gravy. the neck/giblet stock i made has peppercorns in it, so i don't add pepper. couple shots of bourbon make it amazing at the end though!

                1. re: iheartcooking

                  Liver is softish and uniform in texture. Gizzard are harder, as already noted here, and often connected as a pair. In my current turkey, the heart was missing from the giblets, but if it's there, it's the roundest of the items and relatively hard.

                  For my part, I genuinely do not like liver flavor in turkey gravy. That's not just an intellectual attitude but something that I realized when I mistakenly roasted a whole turkey without emptying the giblet packet from the neck cavity! The resulting pan gravy seemed rather "off" to me, but I didn't know why, at first. That was clearly about the liver flavor rather than kidneys or heart. There's no mistaking liver..

              2. Is it too late to run out and grab some turkey wings? I use the make ahead gravy recipe by roasting those and simmering in turkey stock. Turkey flavor shines through.

                1 Reply