It’s All Gravy… or It’s Not – Just a little turkey day advice
Turkey gravy — it’s a must-have! However, making it can be one of the trickiest parts of the feast. Why? It’s the last part of the meal you prepare
If your family is like mine, congregating also means kibitzing, drinking, laughing, picking on the antipasti and simply all of the family fun non-sense that takes part. It’s possible that some alcohol has been consumed, and everyone is hungry and has been anticipating the big event.
To add to the pressure, gravy has more than one role to fulfill. Not only does it taste, good, but it can be used to disguise some less-successful parts of the meal. While roasting is pretty easy — heat the oven, take a big piece of protein, season it, put it in a pan, and wait until it’s done — gravy definitely requires some cooking chops.
1. Lack of advance planning.
Even though you make the gravy at the last minute, deciding to make it after the turkey is cooked won’t work! To get the most flavor, filling the roasting pan with vegetables (onions, carrots, mushrooms, celery, and my secret – parsnips) ensures a tasty gravy.
2. Speaking of those veggies, leave them in big pieces.
Save your finer knife skills for carving the bird. I learned the hard way that a careful dice will be a charred mess after hours in the oven, so large chunks are the way to go. If you’re lacking a rack for the roasting pan, carrots and celery, arranged in rows, can even act as a makeshift rack.
3. Throwing away the weird bits of the turkey.
The neck and giblets add flavor. Use them to make broth for the gravy. We actually fight over these pieces around the kitchen!
4. Not having enough room on the stove.
When the turkey comes out of the oven, you need two burners to rest the roasting pan on to deglaze it.
5. Drinking all the wine.
You need about a cup of it to deglaze the pan. Too late? Almost any liquid will work — the broth from the giblets, water, even a splash of brandy.
6. Lumpy mashed potatoes are a good thing, lumpy gravy, never.
Here’s where those roasted vegetables come in handy. Purée them in a food processor and use them to thicken and flavor the gravy.
7. Thinking that pouring flour in the pan and stirring will work. IMPORTANT
It will taste of flour and you’ll get lumps. Make a roux instead. Take equal amounts of flour and fat (butter or fat from the pan), warm the fat in a small pan, and whisk in the flour until it’s well combined. Cook, whisking all the time, for about five minutes. It should taste good and toasty. Remember this, it’s a classic roux.
8. Brining the turkey.
Because gravy is made from all the drippings and fat from the bird, it could be salty. Taste it before adding additional salt.
9. Deep-frying the turkey.
This method makes it too hard to find the tasty bits that flavor the gravy, and the gravy will be greasy… Same for cooking it on the engine of your car.
10. If all else fails…
Not having an emergency jar of ready-made gravy or a 24-hour store nearby would probably be the last and final mistake you could make with gravy.
Happy Thanksgiving to everyone! May the Good Lord Bless your Family, Friends and Table this season and many to follow! Hope to see everyone soon! Enjoy the day and be safe!