This is not the easiest recipe for a turkey gravy but it is my best. Gravy is a fill-in activity on turkey day. You are in the kitchen anyway, may as well make a fine gravy. Although the gravy practically cooks all day, it is not a time consuming effort nor does it need much attention. It does have a lot of steps so please read through the entire recipe once before making. The background section “About Sauces and Gravy” in my cookbook gives better understanding.
Things you need include:
A fat separator, large colander, measuring spoons, a bowl to catch and retain turkey stock, and a large glass measuring cup (you need to see into it), a tall stock pot, large tall saucepan, a bulb baster and a whisk.
The gravy is done in several stages which are explained here in simpler form than the actual recipe so you can plan the stages.
First broil the vegetables and two turkey wings along with the neck from the bird in oven to add flavor. If you only have one oven and the bird is in it, you can either do this step the day before, roast in the BBQ with lid down, brown with a little oil in a fry pan or skip this step.
After broiling, add wings, neck, and giblets1 from the bird, vegetables, wine and cold water, red pepper, garlic, bay leaves to a large stock pot. No salt is needed as pan drippings used later maybe salty. Bring to a boil then simmer two hours.
After the stock has cooked for several hours, the stock is strained and the broth is retained. The vegetables are discarded. Some of the neck meat and all the giblets are cut very fine and retained. The other wing meat is saved for the pets.
The next stage only starts once there has been some runoff from the turkey having cooked for 5 hours. Some savory flavored fat from the turkey roasting pan is drawn off and used to make a roux - a mixture of flour and fat cooked together which will be used as a thickener for the gravy. The roux is allowed to brown. Stock is added to the roux along with giblets. Madeira and sherry are added, the gravy is further reduced until it has thicken enough. Turn off the heat on the gravy. We wait until the turkey is cooked and removed from oven.
Finally, pan drippings are fat separated and this along with some pan scrapings are added to the gravy. The gravy is then further reduced until ready to serve.
Turn broiler on high.
1 large onion, skin on, sliced in quarters (roasted)
2 large carrots cut into 1~2 inch pieces (roasted)
2 ribs of celery and celery leaves cut into 1~2 inch pieces (roasted)
1 turkey neck (comes with the turkey) (roasted)
Turkey giblets1 (comes with the turkey)
2 turkey wings3 (roasted)
3 cloves of unpeeled garlic crushed and a rough chop (roasted)
Any left over chicken stock from ejecting the bird
Pinch of red pepper
3 bay leaves
1 ½ quarts of water or part white wine, and water (add more if needed to cover the vegetables/turkey parts)
4 tablespoons of white flour
2 cup of white wine (optional)
½ cup Madeira or Cream Sherry
¼ cup port
Pinch of ground thyme
Pinch of white pepper
Pinch of ground sage
Kitchen Bouquet5 (optional used to darken the gravy as required)
1 teaspoon ~1 tablespoon sugar if needed to peak the flavor at the end
In a shallow roasting pan, add the roughly chopped onions, celery, carrots, garlic, along with turkey neck, and turkey wings. Broil these on high, turning the pieces with thongs until some color has been added to the wings and vegetables. This will only take 15-20 minutes depending on your broiler and the distance to the heat. If too close, things may burn. Be diligent; leave the broiler door open and peek in frequently, turning pieces as required. Now place all the fowl and vegetables in to a tall stock pot. Add any left over chicken stock, a pinch of red pepper, bay leaves, 2 cups of wine, 1 ½ quarts of cold water and the giblets from the turkey. Bring to a boil, and reduce to medium heat and cook for 3 hours. A lot of the water will evaporate into the kitchen you may wish to crack a window. Cool and strain stock through a large colander into a large bowl. After “strainings” have cooled, separate giblets, wings and neck. Remove meat from neck and dice the meat very finely along with the giblets. Place meat in the same bowl with the drained stock and retain.
After the turkey has cooked for five hours, open the oven, and remove 2 cups of liquid from the turkey’s roasting pan with a bulb-baster into a glass measuring cup. Let the cup stand 5 minutes so that the fat rises to the top of the measuring cup. Separate 4 tablespoons of the turkey rendered fat from the top layer in the measuring cup to use to make a roux.
Add 4 tablespoons of the turkey rendered fat in a large tall sauce pan over medium heat; add 4 tablespoons of flour and brown while stirring with a whisk continuously until the flour has turned a nutty brown. Be careful. You need the nutty brown color to add color and flavor but go a little too long, the butter will burn and the whole roux will turn very dark brown and bitter. If that happens start the roux over with fresh ingredients. Remove sauce pan from heat, let cool a minute then whisk in about two cups of the strained stock. When whisked in, add all the remained stock with the chopped meat. Now add:
1/2 cup of Madeira and ¼ cup sherry
Return sauce pan to stove top and cook on low to reduce and concentrate the flavor. This should take 35 to 45 minutes. If still a little too watery, add another 10 minutes to reduction time. When the sauce has reduced, add a pinch of ground thyme, white pepper and ground sage. When the gravy is thickened to the desired consistency turn off the heat. Wait until the turkey is finished cooking.
|"gravy gold" in bottom of roasting pan|
The turkey, at this point, is out of the oven and resting in its pan. The last things that go into the gravy are the juices and the dark pan scrapings. These help darken the gravy’s color while adding flavor and character. Unless you have a Teflon pan, your roasting pan bottom should look something like this one. Elevate one end of the roasting pan with towels to help collect the juices from the pan. Caution: It may be hot. Collect all of the juices from the roasting pan using a bulb-baster. Separate the juices from the fat using a fat separator2 which is a handy kitchen tool. Add the juices to the gravy not the fat. Use a spoon for the scrapings4. Set the gravy back over medium heat until further reduced to the desired consistency. (If you added a lot of juice from the pan, this may take 30 minutes.) Finally check the seasoning by tasting the gravy. Add a little salt only if needed. Added extra pepper or seasonings as required. Add 1 teaspoon ~1 tablespoon sugar if needed to peak the flavor at the end to add a hint of sweetness.
- Giblets - the gizzard, liver, heart of the turkey. These are in a pouch and usually stuffed in the neck cavity of the turkey.
- If you don’t have a fat separator, you can use a bulb-baster and a large clear measuring cup. Either skim off the fat from the top or pull out just the dark juices from the bottom of a large measuring cup to another cup.
- The turkey wings help create a rich turkey stock, if you scaling back the recipe, maybe the turkey neck is enough. This is especially true if you choose to use a low salt chicken stock replacing some of the water of the stock. If turkey wings are not available look for turkey necks, or even drumsticks (legs.)
- Scrapings – the precious dark caramelized bits from the roasting pan may not occur in Teflon coated pans – see picture.
- Kitchen Bouquet is a bottled condiment sauce used as an ingredient in cooking, rather than as a table condiment. It is mostly used for its ability to add a dark brown color. It's generically referred to as a "browning agent." The ingredients listed are: caramel, vegetable base (water, carrots, onion, celery, parsnips, turnips, salt, parsley, and spices), sodium benzoate (less than .01 or 1% to preserve freshness) and sulfating agents.