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Adding flavor to turkey gravy

Requesting help - I just made a gravy by roasting two extra turkey wings - we love extra dark meat, and I loved the idea of making the gravy a day ahead. So, I roasted the wings on a "rack" of carrots, celery and onion chunks. Removed meat and veggies, made a roux from the drippings/fat in the pan. Cooked the roux to what I *thought* was a deep golden brown, and began adding stock (made from the backbone of my spatchcocked bird, plus the neck and aromatics).

I wound up with a beautiful beige gravy - smooth, lovely, and fairly tasty, although it is really missing that POW of flavor. I think it might be because I didn't cook the stock long enough...it might be a little insipid.

SOOOOOOO....can I make this serviceable gravy into a "star" gravy? If so, how?

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  1. Add the drippings from the roasted bird and you'll be good to go. (Leave the fat behind.)

    4 Replies
    1. re: pikawicca

      Yes! Make sure that you de-glaze your roasting pan the. You will get a beautiful color and a deep concentrated Turkey flavor.
      Advice for next time Chop the Neck into sections along with the Wing Tips, Nubbins and any other misc. parts you have (I buy at least a extra pack of Necks) along with a coarse Mirepoix and roast in a heavy roasting pan(not on a rack) till quite dark, De-glaze and use as the base for your stock which should simmer for 4 hours or more.

      1. re: pikawicca

        When I roast the bird tomorrow, I should add the de-fatted drippings to today's gravy - can do. I had sort of hoped to use the whole roasting thing tomorrow to make another batch of gravy, but I must rescue this first batch!

        1. re: pikawicca

          Yes, I agree with this. WHen I have done gravy in advance it was lacking something until I dumped it into the roasting pan and incorporated the drippings - huge difference!

        2. 2 things: 1) roast a bunch of shallot to a deep golden brown, then puree them and stir them into your gravy, 2) Add a few splashes of soy sauce.

          1 Reply
          1. re: TorontoJo

            Great ideas - thanks. Have shallots, have soy, will try!

            1. re: Dirtywextraolives

              To correct a completed gravy? Fresh thyme, no added cooking? Splash of cognac might work, but I'm worried that it would be harsh and raw tasting. Details, please!

              1. re: saticoy

                Sorry, not to correct a gravy, those are what I use to flavor my gravy. Supposed you could reduce some vermouth, or wine, steep some fresh thyme in it, then add that to the gravy. Or steep the thyme in some cream.

              1. re: ipsedixit

                Ahhhhh.....MSG......perhaps, perhaps.....and I can boost the salt, but am afraid that might be just salty...

                1. re: saticoy

                  The roasted shallots and soy give both salt and umami! Go easy on the soy and taste as you add a bit at a time.

                  1. re: TorontoJo

                    Thanks, TJ - been reading your spatchcocking posts! Will go this route for what may be my only batch of gravy in light of my first and hopefully only thanksgiving disaster....while continuing to cook my stock to intensity, had a miscommunication with the hubs, and this rich, glorious stock sat out on the stove all night. Bye bye. Trying to decide if I am going to make a small batch from the roasted wing tips, scoot out for another pack of wings, or use the emergency box of stock. Sigh.

                    1. re: saticoy

                      You have enough to do, the box of stock you have will be fine.

                      Next year, I'm going to do my stock on Monday and get that out of the way sooner. Some do it even earlier and freeze it.

                2. re: ipsedixit

                  +1 A dash of MSG or a dash of some stock powder that contains MSG. Plus a tiny droplet of Kitchen Bouquet.

                  1. re: ipsedixit

                    If you use MSG (in anything, not just gravy), PLEASE make sure none of your guests are allergic to it. The reaction can be quite severe in some people.

                  2. A really good gravy needs long cooked turkey producing drippings. There is no substitute. Make ahead gravy with long cooked stock is ok, but never the equal of gravy with drippings. And gravy needs a fair amount of salt and pepper.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: magiesmom

                      I roasted the wings for almost two hours - to temp. Got some nice drippings, nice fond. I think my stock might be lacking. Funny - my husband put a spoon in and tasted....thought about it....put another spoon in and before he tasted, added an enormous amount of black pepper to the spoon. He said that helped a lot, so definitely going to boost the pepper tomorrow.

                      1. re: saticoy

                        Personally I think you need more than wings for great turkey stock. I use two legs, as many necks as I can get, and a few wings. Roast for an hour, cook stock for 5-6.

                    2. Just want to mention this fantastic grease separator: here it is on Amazon:


                      There's another one (looks the same) on Amazon, a few dollars less but I posted this one because it's a better illustration.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: walker

                        Nice....but the price for 16 hour delivery is probably prohibitive! This went straight onto my Amazon wish list...thanks!

                        1. re: walker

                          Didn't get very good reviews from Amazon site. Looks good though.....think I will just stick with my old but true model.

                        2. Add some white wine. And maybe a like a tablespoon or so of cream.

                          1. Use the contents of the "giblet bag" inside the turkey when you make your stock..

                            4 Replies
                              1. re: Puffin3

                                not for me. I make the stock ahead before I have my turkey and I use the giblets in my stuffing.

                                1. re: magiesmom

                                  What do you use to make your stock in advance?

                                  1. re: Puffin3

                                    I buy turkey wings and /or legs and roast them along with onions and carrotts . I do this because I like to have stock for the stuffing .

                            1. A couple of bay leaves and a bit of thyme and a few drops of fresh squeezed lemon juice and S&P to taste. The lemon juice helps add a light note to a gravy that could taste a bit heavy on the 'fonde' side.

                              1. Bring to a boil and reduce. It will concentrate the flavour. keep reducing and tasting till you hit the level you want. If you overreduce you can always add water (what you're taking out) to bring it back to consistency.

                                1. Boil down what you've got to intensify the flavor, along with the soy and shallot. My gravy-doctoring arsenal includesbalsamic vinegar; jars of Better than Bouillon; Kitchen Bouquet (or Gravy Master); Lipton dry Onion, Onion Mushroom, and Golden Mushroom packets; and Stonewall Kitchen's Roasted Garlic and Onion Jam. Not that I'd use all of them on the same gravy.

                                  1. Thanks to everyone who pitched in advice! My gravy was rescued, and I have a new arsenal of tips for the future. I hope everyone had a wonderful feast - ours was great, in no small part due to this community!

                                    I reheated the gravy and let it simmer for about 30 minutes. I made a new stock using the roasted wing tips and middles - I just couldn't do the box on Thanksgiving if there was an alternative, nor could I face the rest of the last minute panic people at the store. SO, I wound up pureeing some of that rich stock with the onion from the stock, along with a judiciously small amount of carrot and celery. I used soy sauce in the stock, and probably will do this with every stock I ever make again - YUM. Added some of that puree to the gravy, then I did add a bit more soy sauce to the gravy, and it helped enormously.

                                    It was great to be able to carve and serve with the gravy already in its boat, so I didn't take the time to defat the drippings and add them...but as it turns out, the gravy was wiped out completely, so I will have to make another batch for leftovers!

                                    1. I've mentioned this on other threads before, but I sneak an anchovy or two in with my fat before adding the flour for the roux. If no one catches you, or at least those in the know are cool, you'll get a super flavorful gravy and can simply smile when folks "ooh" and "ahh".

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: MGZ

                                        Yeah I use a bit of anchovy paste in pretty well every savory dish I make. Learned it working in a pancake house of all places. LOL

                                      2. My favorite 'secret ingredient' in savory sauces for that extra boost of flavor is a few dashes of Bragg's Liquid Aminos. Rich umami flavor without the 'brewed' flavor of soy sauce.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: Boston_Otter

                                          I like Bragg's but many people I know hate it, so I never serve to people unless I am sure.

                                          1. re: magiesmom

                                            My secret weapon for super umami in gravies and savories is a few dashes of Maggi Seasoning. It doesn't have the tamari-like overtones that Bragg's does, and an almost imperceptible amount can completely transform the taste.Honestly, the stuff is like flavor magic.

                                        2. PBS repeated the Paul Prudhomme turducken show recently. For his gravy, he sauteed onion, garlic, eggplant, and sweet potato. He added stock and drippings, then pureed the whole shebang into a rich gravy. After first seeing that a few years ago, I made a batch of the vegetable mixture which I froze in half-cup amounts to use in making gravies. I think one could riff on this concept with various vegetable combinations depending on what sort of proteins one most often cooks. For beef, maybe carrot and tomato in place of the eggplant and sweet potato. Roasting the vegetables rather than sauteeing would be even better.

                                          1. I love a bit of white wine, garlic, and Herbes de Provence in my poultry gravy. It sounds like you did a nice rescue though.

                                            1. How stiff was the stock after chilling overnight? Longer cooking removes more minerals and gelatin from the bones and skin, but I have my doubts about it extracting more flavor. However, long cooking does develop flavor, in part because it breaks down the gelatin proteins in the shorter chains. But longer cooking also lets some aromatics evaporate. The use of shallots or other vegetables while making the gravy restores those vegetable flavors.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: paulj

                                                Gelatin and flavour have nothing to do with each other. Gelatin is extracted to provide mouth feel. You get flavour from the meat, vegetables, herbs and spices in the stock.

                                                When meat is thoroughly cooked, it releases about 40% of its weight in juice, and the flow of juice pretty much ends when the tissue reaches 160ºF/70ºC. Most of the juice is water, and the rest the soluble molecules carried in the water. If meat is cooked in water, then gelatin can be freed from the connective tissue and extracted over a long period of time. When cooks make stocks, extraction times range from less than an hour for fish, to a few hours for chicken or veal stocks, to a day for beef. Optimum extraction times depend on the size of the bones and meat pieces, and on the age of the animal; the more cross-linked collagen of a steer takes longer to free than the collagen from a veal calf.

                                                1. re: Zalbar

                                                  I was working from memory of an article by Hervé This on the pros and cons of cooking stock a long time. But I've returned the book to the library so I can't quote him directly.

                                              2. My gravy was amazing. Butter and flour roux. A tiny bit of turkey stock from the neck; the rest of the liquid was homemade chicken stock from my freezer. Salt and pepper, a bit of turkey drippings, and a tablespoon of soy sauce. I think chicken stock instead of turkey stock is a HUGE thing.

                                                I made it (except for the drippings) the day before and we were eating it like pudding (it was extra thick in anticipation of the drippings).

                                                11 Replies
                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                  I made stock from WF wings and then the WF make ahead gravy starter. I'm so glad I did not add any salt because the salt I added to outside of Butterball (olive oil, soft unsalted butter, salt, white pepper) was enough.

                                                  1. re: sandylc

                                                    sandylc wrote: "I think chicken stock instead of turkey stock is a HUGE thing."

                                                    Isn't there something remarkable about the combination of chicken with turkey? I sometimes use a turkey leg as a secret ingredient in chicken soup and it never fails to draw raves. People never identify it as a discrete flavor but all agree that it's just plain delicious.

                                                    1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                      I do the same for Jook when I make it.

                                                      1. re: eclecticsynergy

                                                        That's funny. You're using turkey to elevate chicken and I'm using chicken to elevate turkey!
                                                        I'm just not a big fan of the flavor of turkey - I suspect at least some turkey fans pretend to like it so that they can get the stuffing, potatoes, gravy, etc. I have news for this club: You can make all of this with goose, duck, chicken, or even no bird at all!!!! I do....

                                                        1. re: sandylc

                                                          I like turkey, especially dark meat turkey, as does my whole family.

                                                          1. re: magiesmom

                                                            You can't be in our club, then ! Ha ! :-)

                                                              1. re: magiesmom

                                                                Oh-hh-Kay...you can come. But nothing about liking turkey, O.K.?

                                                                1. re: sandylc

                                                                  ok. I'll just eat whatever is given me and love it.

                                                          2. re: sandylc

                                                            sandylc rote: "You can make all of this with goose, duck, chicken, or even no bird at all!!!! I do..."

                                                            Oh, yah. I've been known to make stuffing without a bird. More than once. And seldom with any left over, either!

                                                      2. A smidgen of dijon mustard...

                                                        ...and booze (I use brandy or cognac)

                                                        1. I'll join the one year bounce!

                                                          Here's Jamie doing something essentially similar:


                                                          1. This does not address the OP's year-old problem of weak flavor but is something to consider as an alternative to roux:
                                                            Paul Prudhomme roasts eggplant, garlic, onion, and sweet potato then purees this and uses it to thicken the gravy. I have used this idea for all sorts of gravies; it's yummy. You can also dice and saute the veg. It's worth making and freezing this gravy base in 4-8 oz. containers that you just whip out whenever you need to make gravy or pan sauces. http://www.chefpaul.com/site.php?page...

                                                            1. A gravy without drippings is like a day without sunshine.

                                                              What you made is a fancied up velouté sauce.

                                                              1 Reply
                                                              1. re: C. Hamster

                                                                Why don't drippings from the roasted wings count? I agree volume wise, it might not be much, but I usually use a few pounds of legs and wings, roasted dark with veg, and make stock with the drippings and the roasted meat. I DO add turkey drippings from the bird too, but I don't know that those drippings are somehow different.

                                                              2. A couple years ago I heard Shirley O. Corriher on the radio. She said her mother thickened her gravy by throwing a handful of the stuffing mix into the bottom of the roasting pan before loading the bird in. I tried it and I've made gravy that way ever since.

                                                                You just let whatever you use -- along with whatever's in it -- soak up all the drippings. Then when you take the turkey out all you have to do is take a stick blender to it to purée any veggies and smooth out any solid parts if the fond. Check for seasoning and it's done! And it's good!

                                                                1 Reply
                                                                1. re: rainey

                                                                  Shirley is great. I keep checking for her blog every now and then; it was supposed to be coming in Summer 2011 but it hasn't materialized yet.


                                                                2. Sorry to be so brief but what you need is salt

                                                                  1. Deglaze roasting pan with madeira or sherry and cider. I'm a fan of the old NY Times turkey gravy from scratch: cook the stock for 5 hours using turkey legs roasted in butter for two hours or so. But if you haven't made that deep flavored stock, I do find the addition of some alcohol and cider to the drippings pan will punch up the stock. don't go for "too little fat": the darn stuff adds tons of flavor.