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Old 11-24-2014, 05:11 PM   #1
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Our Best Gravy for the Holidays

We've spoken about the perfect turkey, the perfect potatoes, the perfect dressing, and a host of other must-have items for the Thanksgiving day feast. I think though, that there may be some less experienced cooks here who have yet to master gravy, what makes it taste great, how to get the best texture, what variations might take there gravy, or sauce right over the top.

I will offer one great gravy recipe for the upcoming feast, thickening the broth with a cornstarch slurry, a flour slurry, or a roux. It will be based on turkey broth, but the technique would work for pork, chicken, beef, lamb, even fish. Here's how I make my own gravy, and the ingredients I use to insure maximum flavor.

Ingredients:
2 smoked turkey drumsticks
Giblets, livers, and neck from the turkey
Salt
1 stalk Celery
Sage
Fresh Onion
Ground pepper (optional)

Place the drumsticks into a pot with three cups of water. Turn heat to medium high under the pot. Dice the livers and giblets and add to the pot. Slice the celery into two-inch chunks and add to the pot. Peel and dice the onion, and add that to the pot as well. Add about 1 tsp. of salt, 1/4 tsp. ground sage, and 1/4 tsp ground pepper. Bring to a boil.

When the water comes to a boil, turn the heat to its lowest setting and cover the pot. Let simmer for 1 hour.

This process can be sped up by putting the ingredients into a pressure cooker, bringing to pressure, and cooking for thirty minutes.

When the time has elapsed, remove the lid from the pot, or release the pressure from the PC and remove the lid. Use a tablespoon to remove a bit of the liquid. Let that cool and taste it. Does it taste right? If not, add more seasoning to your taste by sprinkling in a little more, letting it cook for five minutes or so, and re-testing. When it tastes the way you want it, strain it through a fine mess strainer. Reserve the meat from the neck, and chop the liver and giblets to add to your stuffing/dressing, if you like them. If not, discard. You can add the onions back into the broth if you so desire. They will add a bit of depth. I recommend blnding them with a little broth, so that the onion haters in your groups won't even know that the onions are in there. They will just love the richer flavor.

Add the liquid back into the pot and bring to a rolling boil. Turn down the heat to medium and let boil for another eight to ten minutes to concentrate the broth. This part is especially important if you are going to thicken with a cornstarch slurry, as that will dilute the sauce or gravy. If using a roux to thicken your gravy, make sure you haave about 2 1/2 cups of broth to work with.

To thicken with a cornstarch slurry, add 2 heaping tbs. of cornstarch to 1/2 cup of cold water. Stir until all lumps are gone. Slowly stir this slurry into the boiling broth. It will thicken in less than a minutes. Remove from heat and cover.

If thickening with a flour slurry, place three tbs. of flour into a bowl. Add just enough water to make a smooth paste. It is essential to make a very smooth paste. Once the paste is made, add a little more water and stir until a smooth slurry is formed. Slowly stir the flour slurry into the mildly boiling broth. Continue stirring until the gravy thickens. The stirring is more easily accomplished with a balloon whisk.

For a roux-thickened gravy, melt three tbs. butter in a shallow pan. When the butter is bubbling, add three tbs. of flour, and 1/4 tsp. of salt. Stir over medium heat until it turns lightly yellow in color (blonde). This is what is called - roux. Whisk the roux from the shallow pan into the pot of boiling broth. Continue whisking for two minutes to let the gravy thicken.

With all of the above, if the gravy or sauce isn't thick enough, whisk in more slurry, or roux until it's just where you want it. Taste, and correct the seasoning.

If you want to add mushrooms, Chop them, then saute' them gently until they begin to soften. Add them to your gravy and let them finish cooking in the simmering pot. Any juices that accumulated in the pan used to saute the mushrooms should be added to the gravy.

Now, I need more wonderful gravy recipes. Let's give our less experienced cooks our best gravy recipes.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North

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Old 11-24-2014, 07:17 PM   #2
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I start my gravy with a roux as well. I usually deglaze the roasting pan and put the drippings in a gravy separator, then make the gravy in the pan. Sometimes I use butter for the roux or if there is enough fat on the top of the drippings I'll use that.

Once the roux is done I add back the drippings leaving the excess fat behind. Then add broth (usually boxed or canned) until I reach the right consistency. Season to taste.
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Old 11-24-2014, 07:49 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bakechef View Post
I start my gravy with a roux as well. I usually deglaze the roasting pan and put the drippings in a gravy separator, then make the gravy in the pan. Sometimes I use butter for the roux or if there is enough fat on the top of the drippings I'll use that.

Once the roux is done I add back the drippings leaving the excess fat behind. Then add broth (usually boxed or canned) until I reach the right consistency. Season to taste.
I'm totally with you there bakechef. Last year I did the whole nine yards with all the "falderol" of making my own stock ahead of time, and I could tell no difference in the ultimate outcome. There's no shame in leaving stock/broth making to experts, but that's just my opinion.
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Old 11-24-2014, 08:47 PM   #4
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The fat separator is my friend. Once I remove the turkey from the pan, I pour all the juices into the separator. Let it settle and pour off the fat. Pour the rest of the juices back into the pan. I make a slurry of flour and water in a jar with a lid. I put a teaspoon of Gravy Master or Kitchen Bouquet Shake in it and then shake the heck out of it until there are no lumps of flour. I too use the premade stock of the experts. (If necessary, I do have Better Than Bullion for turkey on hand.) Pour that into the pan, then once it comes to a boil, I slowly add the slurry while it simmers and stop when it reaches the desired thickness. Adjust seasonings. Pour into a large pitcher, preferably a thermal one so it will stay hot while it makes the rounds. By then the juices of the turkey have gone back to where they belong. And dinner can start.

My grandmother made her gravy in this manner, but with her own stock. So did my mother, sister and all my aunts.
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Old 11-24-2014, 08:50 PM   #5
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I'm totally with you there bakechef. Last year I did the whole nine yards with all the "falderol" of making my own stock ahead of time, and I could tell no difference in the ultimate outcome. There's no shame in leaving stock/broth making to experts, but that's just my opinion.
There are lots of great stocks in cartons, it just makes my life easier and they are inexpensive too. If I'm going to make a soup from a carcass then I don't mind making my own stock, but there is enough to do on thanksgiving!
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Old 11-24-2014, 09:12 PM   #6
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There are lots of great stocks in cartons, it just makes my life easier and they are inexpensive too. If I'm going to make a soup from a carcass then I don't mind making my own stock, but there is enough to do on thanksgiving!
When my kids were growing up, there weren't so many convenience foods. Certainly not stock in a carton. You relied mostly on bullion cubes which were filled with more salt than flavor. And now that I am getting up there, and I live alone, I look forward to using some of these convenient foods. They make my life a lot easier. Let the young ones work hard. I have earned my rest.
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Old 11-24-2014, 09:47 PM   #7
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When my kids were growing up, there weren't so many convenience foods. Certainly not stock in a carton. You relied mostly on bullion cubes which were filled with more salt than flavor. And now that I am getting up there, and I live alone, I look forward to using some of these convenient foods. They make my life a lot easier. Let the young ones work hard. I have earned my rest.
That's the spirit!
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Old 11-24-2014, 09:51 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Addie View Post
When my kids were growing up, there weren't so many convenience foods. Certainly not stock in a carton. You relied mostly on bullion cubes which were filled with more salt than flavor. And now that I am getting up there, and I live alone, I look forward to using some of these convenient foods. They make my life a lot easier. Let the young ones work hard. I have earned my rest.
I'm 59 and I still make my own stock. I can't find any that taste of pure turkey flavor. Better Than Bullion comes close, but I can tell the difference.

I want the stock to gel from the collagen when it's refrigerated. Then I know it's as tasty, and as good as it can get. I am a bit of a fanatic when it comes to serving my best to my family and friends. If it's just for me, I don't go to as much trouble. When it's me and DW, I make her the best I can make, every night. Sometimes it doesn't come out perfect, but the effort is always there, even if it's just doctoring a can of VanCamp's Beans.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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Old 11-24-2014, 10:03 PM   #9
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We all use convenient foods from time to time. For special occasions you make an extra effort. Part of that effort may be homemade stock. To me it's a combination of taste and the mouth feel you get from the collagen in the stock that makes the difference.

I will soon be 70 and still make my own stock form time to time. In between, I use canned.
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Old 11-24-2014, 10:10 PM   #10
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We all use convenient foods from time to time. For special occasions you make an extra effort. Part of that effort may be homemade stock. To me it's a combination of taste and the mouth feel you get from the collagen in the stock that makes the difference.

I will soon be 70 and still make my own stock form time to time. In between, I use canned.
I always thought you to be an exceptionally wise individual. Now I know why. With age comes life experience, and the ability to determine what is truly important to you. I applaud your efforts, my friend.

The rest of you, I make no judgements. If you and your family love your gravy, and it's made with pre-made stocks and broths, I tip my hat to you. You're making them what they love.

I only hope that the youth who read these threads take away something worth taking.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
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