The Easy Thanksgiving Gravy post is the first of the “Make Ahead” series. The “Make Ahead” series is to help you plan ahead for Thanksgiving. The gravy, cranberry sauce, dressing or stuffing, and the pumpkin pies are much better when you cook them a day before. By making them ahead, the spices have time to intensify creating more depth and flavor to your meal. On Thanksgiving, simply reheat gravy stove-top, bring the cranberry sauce to room temperature, and put the dressing/stuffing and pies in the oven to heat up.
How are you going to be celebrating Thanksgiving? Do you keep it traditional and serve turkey with all of the trimmings? In our family, we vary a little every year. My father-in-law doesn’t eat turkey so sometimes we serve a beef roast instead. This year, we are keeping with tradition and will be serving a turkey with homemade gravy, cranberry sauce, dressing, an assortment of veggies, and pies.
This year, however, I am all about what can I make ahead so that on Thanksgiving Day I can enjoy the company of my family, watch a little football, and simply relax. I don’t want to spend the entire day in the kitchen.
Make this rich and savory gravy ahead and save time. The secret to a perfect gravy starts with a good homemade stock. In this recipe, I am using turkey wings. Why this works? Turkey wings have a lot of collagen/gelatin, which adds body to the stock. The idea behind the stock is that you want a rich savory base. A turkey neck is also very gelatinous. This is very similar to making homemade chicken stock and using chicken feet for depth and body.
The flavor of the stock develops as it simmers and the browning of the wings and the caramelization of the onions and carrots are released into the stock. To strain stock, use a fine-mesh strainer like a chinois. A chinois strainer is a cone-shaped strainer with a fine mesh, which is ideal for straining stocks and sauces that need to have a very smooth and silky consistency.
What I love about this recipe is that once the stock is strained it is already pretty thick. This means that a roux is not needed to thicken the gravy. Simply dissolve flour in water and add it to the stock stirring constantly. This is a sure way to avoid lumps in the gravy.
Alternate option: Some gravy recipes call for a roux, which is a thickening agent made up of fat, flour, and liquid. For example, to make one cup of roux gravy, use 2 tablespoons fat (butter), 2 tablespoons flour, and 1 cup liquid. The butter is melted over low heat, then the flour is added by whisking it into the melted butter, whisking until you create what looks like a paste. The cooking time of the flour is determined by the preferred gravy color. Three minutes of cooking will generate a blond-like gravy, extending the time to 5 minutes as the flour browns will generate a rich brown gravy color. Add the liquid and whisk vigorously to prevent lumps. Continue to cook until desired thickness about 7-10 minutes.
Enjoy, from my kitchen to yours.
- 2 Turkey wings
- 1 large onion, quartered
- 2 carrots, peeled, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Italian parsley sprigs
- 3 fresh thyme sprigs
- 3-4 black peppercorns
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups chicken broth
- ⅓ cup water
- 2 Tbsp flour
- Kosher salt and ground pepper
- Preheat oven to 425⁰F, line a baking sheet with parchment paper, add first 4 ingredients on sheet and top with oil. Bake for 1 hour or until wings turn a brown color. Remove from oven and set aside.
- In a large Dutch oven pot over medium-high heat,combine contents from baking sheet and add parsley, thyme, peppercorns, bay leaves, and broth. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 2 hours. Allow stock to cool a bit before continuing.
- Using a heatproof large bowl, strain mixture, using a wooden spoon push through solids, discard solids, and set aside.
- In a small bowl, combine water and flour, whisk until flour dissolves and it has no lumps. In a small saucepan over medium heat, combine stock with flour mixture, whisk and season with salt and pepper. Continue whisking until gravy thickens to desired consistency about 10-15 minutes.