How to Make Gravy
By Melissa Clark, The New York Times
Whether you’re making classic last-minute gravy or our make-ahead recipe, remember this: great gravy can only come from great stock. It’s absolutely worth the time it takes to make your own turkey or chicken stock from scratch, but there are tricks to fortifying store-bought stock too.
To make your own stock, you first need poultry bones, either cooked or raw or a combination. Some of the bones should have meat on them, but most can be picked clean. I save my roast chicken carcasses in the freezer until stock-making day, and augment them with fresh chicken or turkey wings picked up at the supermarket. Two or three pounds of bones is plenty, but even a pound will give you enough stock to make gravy. If you’ve got turkey giblets from your bird (heart, gizzard, neck, anything but the liver), throw them into the pot with the bones and a big pinch of salt.
Add some vegetables and aromatics: a carrot, a leafy celery stalk, an onion and/or leek, a few cloves of peeled garlic, a bay leaf and/or some parsley stems, and a teaspoon of peppercorns.
Pour in enough water to cover all the solids by at least 2 inches. Then bring it up to a very gentle simmer and let it bubble for a couple of hours. I don’t bother skimming, but it won’t hurt if you do. Strain everything, pressing down on the solids, and chill for up to three days, or freeze for up to six months.
If you want to make a more intensely flavored stock, try this recipe by the chef Suzanne Goin, which calls for roasting the bones and the vegetables before they are combined with white wine and a red chile and simmered on the stove.
If making your own is of the question, you can come pretty close with a good-quality poultry stock purchased either from a butcher shop or a specialty shop (preferably one made in-house). You’ll often find premade stocks in the freezer case.
If the supermarket is your only option, the rule for canned stock, or stock sold in Tetra Paks, is to taste before using. If it’s terrible, you’re better off with a bouillon cube and water, which is a low bar but marginally better than water. As a last-minute fix for weak stock, simmer it with the turkey giblets for an hour or two. That will fortify it.
Roux, a cooked mixture of equal parts flour and fat (butter, oil or pan drippings) is what thickens a gravy. Here’s what you need to know.
- 7 tablespoons turkey fat, left in roasting pan
- 6 tablespoons flour, preferably instant or all-purpose
- ½ cup white wine
- 4 to 5 cups turkey stock or chicken stock
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- Pour off all but 7 or so tablespoons turkey fat from the roasting pan, and set the pan on the stovetop over medium heat. Sprinkle the flour over the fat and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is golden, 8 to 10 minutes.
- Increase heat to medium high and add a little white wine, whisking as you go to let it reduce. Slowly add stock, stirring constantly, until the mixture is smooth. Cook, continuing to stir, until the gravy has thickened, approximately 8 to 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- 1 stick butter
- ½ cup chopped onion
- ½ cup flour
- Salt and pepper
- 4 to 5 cups rich stock, warmed
- Turkey drippings and giblets (optional)
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, then add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Sprinkle the flour on the onions, stirring constantly, and cook until flour is golden to brown. Adjust heat so mixture does not burn.
- Gradually whisk in 4 cups stock until mixture thickens and is smooth. If it is too thick, add liquid. Cool, cover and chill.
- When ready to serve, reheat mixture over low heat, stirring. Scrape bottom of turkey pan and add drippings or giblets to gravy. Taste and adjust seasoning, then serve.