Gravy can be made using the juices from cooked meat or broth, flour or cornstarch, and seasonings of your choice. For Thanksgiving, we tend to use drippings and liquid from the cooked turkey. Here are some gravy-making basics:
- While cooking the turkey, add water to the bottom of the pan. The water will absorb flavor. You can use it to baste the turkey. Remove some liquid as well to use for the gravy. This water will also help loosen the tasty glazed bits on the bottom of the roasting pan.
- To enhance the flavor of the turkey drippings, add herbs, diced onion and garlic (along with the water) to the bottom of the pan while the turkey is cooking.
- When the turkey is done, transfer it to a platter. If you let the turkey juice in the pan sit for a minute, the drippings or the liquid will settle on the bottom of the pan, while the fat or oils will rise to the top. Pour or skim off the extra fat, while keeping the drippings and juice for the gravy.
- The rule of thumb to start your gravy is to use two tablespoons of drippings or juice to two tablespoons of flour or cornstarch. Mix these two together and combine them with all the yummy juices and meat scraps left in the pan.
- Add back in some of the broth you removed with the baster. Combine with onion, garlic and herbs if you used these during the cooking process.
- Once you have scraped and mixed all of the flavors from the bottom of the roasting pan together, pour mixture into a saucepan. Add in more broth to make it runnier. Use more flour to make it thicker. Be careful, gravy thickens over time, so be cautious not to add too much flour in the beginning.
- If you don’t have enough broth from cooking the turkey, add in vegetable, chicken or turkey broth.
Make ahead non-turkey juice gravy:
If you want to make your gravy ahead of time, or simply decide not to rely on the turkey juices and drippings to make your gravy, that’s okay, too. Try this simple recipe for gravy:
- Add equal parts butter and flour (start with 2 tablespoons of each) to the bottom of a saucepan.
- Stir together until mixture is liquid and turning light brown.
- Pour in 1 1/2 cups chicken, turkey or vegetable broth.
- Stir until gravy thickens to the consistency of your liking.
- Add more broth to make runnier, add flour to thicken.
- Add salt and pepper to taste, as well as herbs of your liking.
Herbs and extras that work well with gravy fresh or dried:
- Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme — Okay, so Simon and Garfunkel’s song of this name was about an Old English Ballad not Thanksgiving, they were onto something with this herbal refrain.
- Garlic and onions always go well in gravy—these can be added into the roasting pan part way through cooking the turkey, and then used in the gravy.
- Mushrooms and even carrots make a good addition, too.
- Dried red chili pepper flakes can be added if your gravy needs extra oomph.
If there is one thing that can drive us a little crazy in the kitchen on Thanksgiving it’s gravy. Too lumpy, too starchy, no flavor, so many things can go wrong with gravy. Typically gravy is made with the juices of the turkey. But if this method hasn’t served you well or it just feels too risky, there are other options that you can make the day of, or even ahead of time to lessen the stress! Gravy made ahead of time will last in the fridge in a sealed container for about a week.