Gravy Attempt #1: Lumpy and oily.
Gravy Attempt #2: Too much rosemary, some lumps.
Gravy Attempt #3: With gravy this salty, who cares about lumps?
Why is a concept as simple as gravy so difficult to perfect? It’s been a learning curve for me over the years, but thanks to a lot of mistakes and one BIG tip, I now deliver my gravy to the table with confidence and pride.
This holiday season, try your hand at foolproof gravy using these four helpful tips! What have you got to lose besides precious pan drippings? Besides, you probably haven’t made as many grave-y mistakes as I have.
First of all, you will need:
- Delicious pan drippings from your roast turkey (here my recipe for 2-hour Roast Turkey)
- 2-3 cups turkey stock or chicken broth
- cold water
- a fat separator
Cook’s Note: To make your own turkey stock, simmer the back and neck of the bird in 8 cups of water with a stalk of celery, 1 small onion, 2 cloves of garlic, 1/2 a teaspoon of pepper and 1 teaspoon of salt for 1 hour over medium heat.
Strain the stock and set aside for use in not only your gravy but your stuffing as well! After transferring your turkey to a platter to rest, pour a little of the stock into the roasting pan.
Cook’s Note: You can omit this step if you roasted your turkey in a turkey bag. Those create plenty of pan juices.
Loosen all those yummy bits with a whisk or fork. I even like to return the pan to the warm oven to further loosen the drippings.
Pour the pan juices through a fat separator and allow to sit for a couple minutes to fully separate out the fat.
Pour 2 cups of only the clear juices into a large skillet. Discard the fatty remains.
If you do not have enough juices to equal 2 cups, add a little of your stock to make up the difference. (You could also add a splash of white wine at this point.) Bring juices to a light boil over medium-high heat.
While the pan juices heat to a light boil, make your roux.
TIP 1: Mix your roux using COLD water.
Once I thought to mix my roux using hot water. After all, hot roux added to hot broth should produce smooth, hot liquid, right? NOPE! Instead, hot roux added to hot broth equaled instant lumps! Thanks to my chef friend, Joel, I learned that mixing a cold roux into a hot broth is what produces a smooth liquid. Thanks, Chef Joel!
TIP 2: Don’t make your roux too thick.
Instead, aim for the consistency of heavy cream. Speaking of cream, if you’re gluten-intolerant, skip the roux and use a couple tablespoons of heavy cream to thicken your gravy instead.
Whisk a scant 3/4 cup of cold water with 1/4 cup flour until very smooth. Slowly pour your roux into the lightly bubbling pan juices.
Whisk, whisk, whisk until smooth and completely combined.
Bring the gravy back to a boil. Whisking constantly, boil the gravy for a few minutes to cook off the floury taste. At this point, the gravy will be thick. Thin the gravy to your liking with 1/2-1 cup of turkey stock and cook another minute.
At this point, I like to season my gravy with herbs such as thyme or rosemary. However, I only use a pinch or at most, 1/4th teaspoon.
TIP 3: Always taste your gravy before adding any salt!
Pan juices are the salty sweat of a roasted bird. Boiling those juices down only makes them saltier. Therefore, the last thing you want to do is be hasty with the saltshaker.
Does your gravy taste too salty? Whisk in some water and cook another minute.
Does your gravy need more salt? Ask a friend for a second opinion. Then and only then stir in 1/2 teaspoon of salt and taste again.
Want even prettier gravy? Stir in a tablespoon of freshly chopped parsley.
Ahh, parsley. It maketh gravy so lovely.
TIP 4: Keep gravy warm with a Crock-Pot.
Gravy is notorious for getting cold. The solution? Pour your gravy into a crock pot set to “WARM.” Now your foolproof gravy can stay warm and out of your way until dinner time!
What is YOUR favorite gravy tip…or gravy horror story?
- 2 cups clear pan juices from a roast turkey or chicken
- 1 cup turkey or chicken stock
- 3/4 cup cold water
- 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 Tablespoon fresh, chopped parsley
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper, if needed
- Bring pan juices to a light boil over medium-high heat.
- Meanwhile, whisk flour with cold water until smooth and lump-free.
- Pour your roux into the pan juices, whisking constantly until smooth and fully incorporated.
- Bring gravy back to a boil and cook for 3-5 minutes, whisking constantly until gravy is thickened and the floury taste is cooked off.
- Add thyme or your favorite dried herb. Whisk in a little turkey stock to thin the gravy to your liking and cook one more minute.
- Taste your gravy before seasoning with any salt or pepper.