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www.goodeatsfanpage.com • View topic - The Thanksgiving Gravy Thread

The Thanksgiving Gravy Thread

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The Thanksgiving Gravy Thread

Postby Babylon1023 » Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:36 am

With T-Day less than a month around the corner, I thought I'd give things a head start with something that has until now eluded me: good homemade turkey gravy. Even though I've elevated to the level of Brinded Bird, we're still leaning on canned gravy as a crutch like a Semi-Ho. No more. So please, share your killer T-Day gravy recipes and let us know what worked and what didn't. I'm not looking for anything off the wall either, just something that will deliver on "excepcted Thanksgiving flavors" as AB put it. For instance, I was glancing at a copy of Bon Apetite and they make gravy with a quick and dirty turkey broth that's made by simmering the turkey neck and giblets in chicken broth while the bird is cooking. Interesting...

PS-I have a dedicated thread to gluten issues pertaining gravy. If you know something about it, please drop a line there.
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Postby Butterbean » Mon Oct 29, 2007 7:58 am

I've used Julia Child's turkey receipe from The French Chef for many years. The gravy recipe is similar to what you describe, except that the neck& giblets are browned first & sauteed carrots, onions & celery are part of the broth. The gravy is also finished with a slurry of cornstarch & port. It's a wonderful gravy & works with a brined turkey, as well.
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Postby Babylon1023 » Mon Oct 29, 2007 8:24 am

Butterbean wrote:I've used Julia Child's turkey receipe from The French Chef for many years. The gravy recipe is similar to what you describe, except that the neck& giblets are browned first & sauteed carrots, onions & celery are part of the broth. The gravy is also finished with a slurry of cornstarch & port. It's a wonderful gravy & works with a brined turkey, as well.


Sounds good. :) I think the BA recipe had said aromatics as well. If you could find time to post the exact recipe that would be pretty sweet.
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Postby Pixietoes » Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:02 am

I don't follow a recipe, but what I do is pretty close to Lee & Butter. Celery tops, carrot ends, and onion chunks go into a saucepan with a small amount of butter to sautee lightly. Then I add the turkey neck, cut in pieces and chicken broth.

That simmers while the turkey cooks.

When I used to roast the turkey, I'd take the bird off to a platter and put the roasting pan over two burners. Spoon out the dripping if it seems too greasy. Throw a small handful of flour into the pan and cook it lightly, add the stock slowly, whisking and scraping as I go. It makes great gravy. I might add a little black pepper and or thyme, but it's usually already salty enough because the drippings are from a brined bird.

I've had a harder time making a satisfactory gravy since I began frying my turkeys. I miss the pan drippings and scrapings.
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Postby Kinsley » Mon Oct 29, 2007 9:06 am

Babylon1023 wrote:
Butterbean wrote:I've used Julia Child's turkey receipe from The French Chef for many
years. The gravy recipe is similar to what you describe, except that the
neck& giblets are browned first & sauteed carrots, onions & celery are
part of the broth. The gravy is also finished with a slurry of cornstarch &
port. It's a wonderful gravy & works with a brined turkey, as well.

Sounds good. :) I think the BA recipe had said aromatics as well. If you
could find time to post the exact recipe that would be pretty sweet.

Maybe Buerre can give you amounts, I can't really be precise, but...
I start with a giblet broth like hers, then I deglaze the roasting pan with
that, and pour everything into a 3 qt. saucier.

I have tried making a roux first, but I haven't noticed that the results are
any better than what I get by adding a slurry. With a Roux, you need to
know in advance how much flour you'll need. With a slurry, you can just
add a little more at a time until the consistency is right.

I usually use Pillsbury Sauce and Gravy Flour with some of the giblet
broth. I always add a dash of soy sauce for flavor and color and
sometimes a little Sherry. I'll have to try Port. :wink:

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Postby Butterbean » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:04 am

Babylon1023 wrote:Sounds good. :) I think the BA recipe had said aromatics as well. If you could find time to post the exact recipe that would be pretty sweet.


OK. From Julia Child's Kitchen is the book, though; I would advise any young cook to get it, as it's a great read besides being a great cookbook.

Julia's Turkey Gravy

The turkey giblets (neck, heart, gizzard; NO liver)
4 tb oil
2 c each chopped onions & carrots (remove half after sauteeing for flavoring the turkey cavity later)
1 c dry white wine (or 2/3 c French vermouth)
2 c chicken stock or broth
water as needed
salt
1 bay leaf; 1/2 tp sage or thyme
3 tb cornstarch blended in 1/4 c port (or cold chicken broth)

Chop neck into 2" pieces, quarter the gizzard & halve the heart; dry in paper towels. Heat oil in a heavy 3 qt. saucepan & brown giblets rapidly on all sides. Remove giblets & stir in vegetables. Cover & cook slowly 5-8 min. until tender; remove cover & brown lightly for a few minutes. Remove half of the veggies for the turkey cavity.

Return giblets to the pan; add wine, stock & enough water to cover ingredients by an inch. Salt lightly, add herbs & simmer partially covered 2-1/2-3 hrs. Strain, degrease & return stock to pan (should have about 3 cups). Whisk in the cornstarch slurry, simmer 2-3 min. & correct seasoning. Set aside (refrigerate if necessary) until turkey is finished.

When turkey is out of roasting pan, remove excess fat from pan & pour in thickened stock, stirring over moderately high heat & scraping pan with a wooden spoon. Strain back into a saucepan; degrease & reheat just before serving.
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Postby stixx23 » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:22 am

My advice is don't make what Paula Deen did for the "Food Network Stars" Thanksgiving with the hard boiled eggs and mushrooms and ick.
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Postby Champagne Charlie » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:52 am

Butterbean wrote:OK. From Julia Child's Kitchen is the book, though; I would advise any young cook to get it, as it's a great read besides being a great cookbook.


That looks GREAT! Thanks!

Question: Do you find that the gravy comes out too salty with the brined bird? I have been contemplating (gasp!) NOT BRINING this year, specifically so I could generate a good quality gravy again! I really want to try Julia's gravy though, and I will try it with a briney, briney bird if you say it works! Let me know. . . .
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Postby Butterbean » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:58 am

Champagne Charlie wrote:Question: Do you find that the gravy comes out too salty with the brined bird? I have been contemplating (gasp!) NOT BRINING this year, specifically so I could generate a good quality gravy again! I really want to try Julia's gravy though, and I will try it with a briney, briney bird if you say it works! Let me know. . . .


I don't know if it's the carrots or the port or both, but Julia's tends to be a slightly sweet gravy, so it works well with a brined bird, imo.
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Re: The Thanksgiving Gravy Thread

Postby Myrealana » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:19 am

Lee wrote:
Babylon1023 wrote: For instance, I was glancing at a copy of Bon Apetite and they make gravy with a quick and dirty turkey broth that's made by simmering the turkey neck and giblets in chicken broth while the bird is cooking. Interesting...


This is what my mom has done for as long as I can remember.

That's how my mom does it - except not with the giblets. Giblets are catfood.

We add in plenty of the turkey drippings, some herbs, simmer to reduce and then thicken with a cornstartch and water mixture.

My mother-in-law makes her gravy from the water the potatoes were boiled in. It's vile. Don't do that.
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Postby thann » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:50 am

This is a teriffic thread -- the perfect Thanksgiving gravy has always eluded me (except for the one year when I sent Ted the Elder to a local soul food establishment to fetch a couple quarts of their gravy!).

Unfortunately I use the gizzard, heart, and liver in my dressing. I'll give browning the neck a try and follow Julia's recipe otherwise.

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Re: The Thanksgiving Gravy Thread

Postby Babylon1023 » Mon Oct 29, 2007 11:51 am

Myrealana wrote:
Lee wrote:
Babylon1023 wrote: For instance, I was glancing at a copy of Bon Apetite and they make gravy with a quick and dirty turkey broth that's made by simmering the turkey neck and giblets in chicken broth while the bird is cooking. Interesting...


This is what my mom has done for as long as I can remember.

That's how my mom does it - except not with the giblets. Giblets are catfood.

We add in plenty of the turkey drippings, some herbs, simmer to reduce and then thicken with a cornstartch and water mixture.


You mean scrap the heart and gizzard but keep the neck, right? Sounds like I'm onto something. :) Gasp! THIS means I'll actually have a use for that Wusthof meat cleaver I just had to have! Oh joy of joy! :twisted:
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Re: The Thanksgiving Gravy Thread

Postby Myrealana » Mon Oct 29, 2007 12:14 pm

Babylon1023 wrote:
Myrealana wrote:
Lee wrote:
Babylon1023 wrote: For instance, I was glancing at a copy of Bon Apetite and they make gravy with a quick and dirty turkey broth that's made by simmering the turkey neck and giblets in chicken broth while the bird is cooking. Interesting...


This is what my mom has done for as long as I can remember.

That's how my mom does it - except not with the giblets. Giblets are catfood.

We add in plenty of the turkey drippings, some herbs, simmer to reduce and then thicken with a cornstartch and water mixture.


You mean scrap the heart and gizzard but keep the neck, right?

Yes. Actually, now that I think about it, she does simmer the organs in the broth for a little while, then takes them out, lets them cool and cuts them up for the cat. But we definately do NOT have giblet chunks in any of the human food.
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Re: The Thanksgiving Gravy Thread

Postby beenie » Mon Oct 29, 2007 1:20 pm

Lee wrote:
Babylon1023 wrote: For instance, I was glancing at a copy of Bon Apetite and they make gravy with a quick and dirty turkey broth that's made by simmering the turkey neck and giblets in chicken broth while the bird is cooking. Interesting...


This is what my mom has done for as long as I can remember.


My mom does that as well, then adds the turkey drippings.

Here's what I do:

In another thread, I wrote:<paraphrase>I make a smaller turkey ahead of time so I can have turkey fat and stock ready for The Big Day.</paraphrase>

For the stock, put the carcass (along with all the connective tissue, skin and bones that don't get eaten) in a 6qt. crock pot, cover with water and turn to low. Let it sit for 24 hours (yes, 24 hours). Do whatever you normally do to separate out the fat, put the fat in a separate container and freeze (this is the schmaltz). What you will have left is oh-so-yummy turkey stock.

For gravy on The Big Day, use the turkey fat in place of oil or butter in the roux, and use the oh-so-yummy turkey stock from the crockpot, which you can store however you'd like (any more than a few days before Thanksgiving and you're best off freezing it).

The last time I did this, I made the most amazing gravy I've ever tasted, my mom's included. :shock: Pure, thick, velvety turkey essence. Seriously, it was gooooood.

I'm waiting until the turkeys go on sale, and will be buying two.


For anyone worried about trying to stretch the one set of giblets that comes with a turkey, anyone getting two turkeys would of course have extra giblets. :wink:

Kinsley wrote:I have tried making a roux first, but I haven't noticed that the results are any better than what I get by adding a slurry. With a Roux, you need to know in advance how much flour you'll need. With a slurry, you can just add a little more at a time until the consistency is right.


I tend to have this issue as well, Kinsley. To combat it, I may switch it up this year and use Lee's method of a manie (if I do, I'll use turkey fat for it). I like slurries too (it's what my mom uses, so it's how I started out), but I think the manie - especially one made with turkey fat - will give it extra turkey flavor.
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Postby Slamdunkpro » Mon Oct 29, 2007 6:45 pm

One thing that I do is if I'm oven roasting a bird I don't use a rack in the roaster. Instead I line the bottom with my Mirepoix. You get nice roasted veggies and no scorched drippings for your gravy.

I like using the buerre manie as well. My meat purvoyer sells turkey bits (necks, wings, backs) on the cheap so I usually make a batch of turkey glace this time of year for the T-day turkey as well as white turkey chili.

Last year I did a Shiraz/raspberry reduction sauce just for something different and there was almost a fistfight over it so I'm sure it will be requested this year.
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Re: The Thanksgiving Gravy Thread

Postby indybear » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:36 pm

Myrealana wrote:My mother-in-law makes her gravy from the water the potatoes were boiled in. It's vile. Don't do that.

My MIL makes her gravy from a packet. :evil: If we ever eat turkey with her again, I'll make my own gravy and take it along.

(Thanksgiving we spend with my family - Mom's a good cook. Christmas we spend with his family - she's not a good cook - from the school of "cook it until it's dead".)
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Postby GameCook » Mon Oct 29, 2007 10:56 pm

The local Mega-Mart sells turkey necks ahead of the holiday, so I buy a couple packages and make turkey stock. I combine the stock with a roux to thicken, season to taste, and refrigerate.

On Thanksgiving I reheat. It always taste better the second day. :wink:
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Postby thatchairlady » Tue Oct 30, 2007 12:11 am

Learned most of my cooking basics from my Grandmother... a total no-frills cook. She'd start with the "goodies" from inside the turkey simmering in water... with some celery, carrots and onions. That broth was used to moisten stuffing that wasn't inside the bird. Yeah! Yeah! Stuffing is "evil" but I like it anyway. She always used one of those black, speckled roasting pans and don't think she ever used any kind of rack. Remember Dad's having a corner bashed in with a hammer so it would fit in the small oven we had. That roaster seemed to make for a lot of good stuck on stuff... nearly bruned but not quite... LOTS of dark brown goodness. Nana used a shaker to mix flour and water to thicken the gravy.

First time I did T-Day at brother's MIL's place I became the gravy QUEEN!?! My brother has basic cooking skills but this kitchen was pitiful!! You'd have thought I turned lead into GOLD the way the "oblivious" raved over plain old gravy.

Actually found a frozen zip bag of turkey "ade" a few days ago. Reduced it down and it's ready to plop into next gravy.
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Postby honeycomb » Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:29 am

Babylon 1023: thank you. Very helpful thread.

I realize it's kind of a threadjack, but it is gravy-related: can anyone help me with the differences/advantages between roux, slurry, and beurre-manie, please? Please speak slowly and use small words, and don't assume I've made decent gravy before.
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Postby tills24 » Tue Oct 30, 2007 2:19 pm

Is there anyone who makes the gravy without the giblets or neck? I've never used any of that stuff, and I don't plan on starting now. :wink:
Growing up we used to use a WondraFlour slurry with the drippings, but I had read on the board someone say that with the brined bird, the drippings will be too salty to use? I had thought of using a slurry with turkey stock, but that might prove to be too thin. Any other sugestions?
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Postby Babylon1023 » Tue Oct 30, 2007 4:42 pm

Butterbean wrote:
Babylon1023 wrote:Sounds good. :) I think the BA recipe had said aromatics as well. If you could find time to post the exact recipe that would be pretty sweet.


OK. From Julia Child's Kitchen is the book, though; I would advise any young cook to get it, as it's a great read besides being a great cookbook.

Julia's Turkey Gravy

The turkey giblets (neck, heart, gizzard; NO liver)
4 tb oil
2 c each chopped onions & carrots (remove half after sauteeing for flavoring the turkey cavity later)
1 c dry white wine (or 2/3 c French vermouth)
2 c chicken stock or broth
water as needed
salt
1 bay leaf; 1/2 tp sage or thyme
3 tb cornstarch blended in 1/4 c port (or cold chicken broth)

Chop neck into 2" pieces, quarter the gizzard & halve the heart; dry in paper towels. Heat oil in a heavy 3 qt. saucepan & brown giblets rapidly on all sides. Remove giblets & stir in vegetables. Cover & cook slowly 5-8 min. until tender; remove cover & brown lightly for a few minutes. Remove half of the veggies for the turkey cavity.

Return giblets to the pan; add wine, stock & enough water to cover ingredients by an inch. Salt lightly, add herbs & simmer partially covered 2-1/2-3 hrs. Strain, degrease & return stock to pan (should have about 3 cups). Whisk in the cornstarch slurry, simmer 2-3 min. & correct seasoning. Set aside (refrigerate if necessary) until turkey is finished.

When turkey is out of roasting pan, remove excess fat from pan & pour in thickened stock, stirring over moderately high heat & scraping pan with a wooden spoon. Strain back into a saucepan; degrease & reheat just before serving.


For anybody who's made this before, any thoughts on what type of white wine and port I should use? Also, I'm assuming the chicken broth used is of the low sodium variety, correct?
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Postby repmogirl » Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:10 pm

honeycomb wrote:Babylon 1023: thank you. Very helpful thread.

I realize it's kind of a threadjack, but it is gravy-related: can anyone help me with the differences/advantages between roux, slurry, and beurre-manie, please? Please speak slowly and use small words, and don't assume I've made decent gravy before.


Roux is equal parts fat & flour cooked in the pan. You remove your meat from the pan & sprinkle over it fat an equal amount of flour. Or if you want to do it with butter you would melt butter in a pan and add an equal amount of flour. You then stir it all around for at least a minute to cook the "starchiness" out of the flour. You then add the rest of the ingredient for your gravy/sauce. It will thicken when it reaches a boil. If it is too thick you can always add more liquid

Slurry,as I know it, is corn starch mixed with cold water prior to adding to the sauce/gravy. It's a good last minute my sauce isn't as thick as I want to be thickner

Beurre Manie is new to me to...someone else will have to explain
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Postby GameCook » Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:46 pm

A "Beurre Manie" is when you mix raw flour and butter into a paste, then add it to your liquid.

For those who missed it, here is the transcript of the GE episode that details all the differences, advantages, and disadvantages -- CLICK here.
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Postby Butterbean » Tue Oct 30, 2007 5:58 pm

Lee wrote:
Babylon1023 wrote:For anybody who's made this before, any thoughts on what type of white wine and port I should use? Also, I'm assuming the chicken broth used is of the low sodium variety, correct?


I'd use the French vermouth (Noilly Prat is what I buy) since that's almost always what Julia Child used.

I'd use low-sodium broth if you're buying it at the store. Did you know that Swanson's Organic chicken broth has about the same sodium content as their low sodium stuff but it's not billed as low sodium? Actually, I think it's 20 milligrams or so lower than the low sodium stuff per cup.


French (or Dry) vermouth, as Lee said (not Italian or sweet vermouth). I use an inexpensive ruby or tawny port (Taylor's or Christian Bros.); you wouldn't want to use an expensive vintage port for gravy. What Lee said on the chicken broth, too.

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Postby Champagne Charlie » Tue Oct 30, 2007 6:06 pm

I am going to do this with a nice Marsala in lieu of the Port. I like Marsala with Autumnal foods, and I have used it as a turkey gravy adjunct in the past.
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Postby repmogirl » Tue Oct 30, 2007 6:15 pm

Lee wrote:*adjusts Invisibility Cloak*

ETA: From the link I posted yesterday:

Beurre manié (French "kneaded butter") is a dough, consisting of equal parts of soft butter and flour, used to thicken soups and sauces. By kneading the flour and butter together, the flour particles are coated in butter. When the beurre manié is whisked into a hot or warm liquid, the butter melts, releasing the flour particles without creating lumps.

Beurre manié should not be confused with roux, which is also a thickener made of equal parts of butter and flour, but which is cooked before use.


Sorry...
honey asked for it to be explained differently & I couldn't do it having never done one

Babylon 1023: thank you. Very helpful thread.

I realize it's kind of a threadjack, but it is gravy-related: can anyone help me with the differences/advantages between roux, slurry, and beurre-manie, please? Please speak slowly and use small words, and don't assume I've made decent gravy before.
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Postby blil » Tue Oct 30, 2007 6:17 pm

I don't like using the pan drippings from brined birds. I've done that once or twice with poor results.

If you brine your bird, I would just start out with a roux and proceed from there with aromatics, chicken stock and maybe a shot of sherry.

FWIW, I think I'm going to smoke a turkey breast this year since it's just me, the wife and 3 little ones. No need for a whole turkey.
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Postby honeycomb » Tue Oct 30, 2007 8:19 pm

Lee wrote:
repmogirl wrote:Sorry...
honey asked for it to be explained differently & I couldn't do it having never done one


Hey, no problem. I find my invisibility around here to be a great source of amusement. :lol:


It doesn't take much to amuse the simple-minded. :wink:


Lee, I don't think you're invisible. :) I did read it! That's why I included the term when I asked, in fact. I know enough about the other cooking you do to know that you know what you're talking about with gravy, so I specifically wanted to know the advantage of beurre-manie vs. say, roux, which I'm the most used to. Is it flavor? Is it the "no creating lumps" thing from your link?

I appreciate any and all help here, so really, thanks, and I will read more later after the kids go to bed. I do sometimes miss things, but I'm looking to learn and get better.

Gamecook, thanks for the link! Also helpful.
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Postby Babylon1023 » Tue Oct 30, 2007 10:37 pm

blil wrote:I don't like using the pan drippings from brined birds. I've done that once or twice with poor results.



Why would brining the bird matter? All you're doing is adding some more water and some salt. Does it come out too salty or something? I'm quite curious because I've heard the same caution about making stock from brined birds. I don't get it.
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Babylon1023
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Postby Babylon1023 » Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:02 am

BTW- Do you think there are many downsides to using cornstarch? I did a quick search for other gravies and nearly all of them suggested a flour roux as a thickener. :?
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