Turkey gravy is a must have at the Thanksgiving table and is the bane of many a cook. Once you learn the key ingredients and the process required to make gravy, you will be more than happy to drag the gravy boat out of the back of your china cupboard.
The ingredients of turkey gravy are: turkey drippings, flour and broth. Optional additives include giblet meat and seasonings. A flour and fat roux is the base for turkey gravy. Liquids should be warm or at room temperature when added to the roux.
The best gravy is smooth, rich in flavor and has a light glisten to its color. The color of turkey gravy can range from light to medium brown. Lumpy gravy occurs when flour was added too quickly or was added to hot liquids. Congealed gravy is an indication that the fat to flour ratio was incorrectly measured and that there is too much fat in the gravy.
Turkey gravy is used to enhance the flavor of turkey, mashed potatoes and dressing. Making turkey gravy makes use of the drippings and giblets that are left over when roasting a turkey.
Gravy can be made directly in the roasting pan, once the turkey is removed, or in a sauce pan. Scrape the sides of the roasting pan and pour these drippings into a measuring cup. To make 2 cups of gravy, skim off 3 tablespoons of fat from drippings and put into a pan, over medium heat. Skim and set aside any remaining fat. If there isn't enough fat to make the desired amount of gravy, make up the difference with butter.
Measure 3 tablespoons of flour and whisk it into the fat. Cook this mixture, called a roux, until it is lightly browned, approximately 10 minutes. Cooking the roux a shorter period of time will result in a floury tasting gravy.
Measure 2 cups drippings, giblet broth or other liquid and slowly whisk into the roux. Continue to whisk the gravy periodically for 5 minutes. Turn heat down to low and continue to whisk periodically until ready to serve.
To create a robust turkey gravy, simmer the neck, giblets, 4 cups water, 1 chopped celery stalk, 1 chopped carrot and 1 chopped onion in a large pot for one hour. Strain the broth. Discard the vegetables. Finely dice the meat and return it to the broth.
If your gravy isn't thickening, you need to add more flour to it. To add flour, you must make a cold liquid slurry by whisking 4 parts flour and 1 part cold broth or water. Whisk the slurry into the gravy. Adding flour to a hot liquid will create lumps.
Many recipes will instruct you to skim and discard the fat from the turkey drippings. Fat is a required ingredient in gravy. Gravy does not have to be at its finished thickness to remove it from the stovetop. Gravy thickens even after it is removed from heat.