Gravy is the linchpin of any celebrated Thanksgiving feast – it manages to tie all the meal elements together and is one of those special holiday things many of us rarely make outside of Thanksgiving.
Pour it over dressing, mashed potatoes and turkey, sop it up with a roll and be sure to save a little for your leftovers sandwich.
Roux the World: Step-by-Step Gravy Making
Pour off the juices from the turkey-roasting pan into a heatproof bowl or liquid measuring cup. Let the juices cool a bit so that any excess fat can be spooned off the top. Using a fat separator will help speed this process along, but it isn’t essential.
Don’t forget the browned bits still stuck to the pan! These have lots of flavor and will give your gravy character. Return the roasting pan to the stove and deglaze with a little broth or wine and scrape all of them up then add them to the pan juices.
In a large skillet (the more space you have, the easier it is to achieve a lump-free gravy), melt butter and any pan drippings together. Whisk in an equal amount of flour and cook, stirring constantly, until full incorporated.
If you’re feeling really adventurous, make your own turkey broth ahead of time. Call ahead and ask our butchers to set aside a turkey back or two and wings. Just roast these in a high-heat oven (about 400°F) until golden, then proceed with our Golden Chicken Broth.
Next, add about 1 cup broth and whisk until all lumps are gone, then add the remaining broth and whisk together. Let the gravy simmer over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until thickened.
Adjust seasoning as needed, but be sure not to over salt if your gravy will bubble away on the stove for an extended period of time.
Add a Little Fun
A classic turkey gravy is great, but adding your own special touch will make it memorable.
Use a splash of dry white wine to deglaze the roasting pan for acidity and balance.
Cook minced shallots in the butter or pan drippings before whisking in the flour to add sweet, garlicky oomph.
Do the same with finely diced mushrooms for a little texture.
Add apple cider to the roux before whisking in the remaining broth or pan juices.
Spike your finished gravy with a dash of soy sauce or Worcestershire.
Crumble in cooked bacon or pancetta or even make your roux with rendered bacon fat instead of butter.
What if you’re having a no-turkey gathering? Gravy doesn’t have to be made with pan drippings or turkey broth. Some of our favorites even skip the stove (see our new Roasted Garlic and Parsnip Vegan Gravy below).
Gravy Train Losing Steam?
Handling hiccups in the gravy-making process can feel a little overwhelming when everyone is ready to eat. Treat your family to a couple gravy practice rounds before the big day so you can perfect your technique.
Your trusty wooden spoon is usually all you need, but using a whisk for adding the broth to the roux, will help to ensure lump-free gravy.
Don’t whisk in the broth until the flour and fat are fully incorporated and have cooked for at least a minute – no white specks of flour!
Whoops! You chose a saucepan that’s too small and a lumpy gravy disaster is about to strike. If things aren’t too far along, you should be able to transfer the gravy to a large skillet or saucepan and whisk like crazy to correct the texture. If the gravy seems fully cooked, but totally lumpy, let it cool slightly then whiz it in a blender until smooth and return it to the pan to heat. If the gravy is just too thick, whisk in additional stock or broth to adjust consistency.
Whoa, this gravy is watery. You probably didn’t have quite enough roux for the amount of stock or broth. Continue to cook the gravy uncovered over medium-high heat, whisking regularly until it thickens up. You can also start another roux, then whisk the watery gravy into that roux for round two.
Remember, if all else fails or if gravy-making just isn’t your thing, order some from us, warm it up and slip it into your gravy boat. No one has to know.
Have any gravy-making tips and tricks up your sleeves? Share any disaster stories or helpful hints in the comments section below.
From carving with confidence to pouring with pride, our online Holiday Cheat Sheet means more of your best for less stress. Order holiday meals online too; we'll do the work, you'll take the credit.