This post has been here before, but I’m showing this vital information to you again because in about 48 hours the panic is going to set in. You’ll want information immediately. Search will not be something you want to do.
Gravy? Oh, the gravy? Oh, damn the gravy!
It is not that hard to make very, very seriously delightful gravy. You need a little time and you have to be organized. Here are all the details and steps to give you total gravy confidence.
In a nutshell, here’s what you are going to do. You are going to make a roux — yes, just like in Cajun feasting — then add some flavored liquid, cook to allow it all to thicken, and eat. That’s all you have to do.
A roux? A roux is just a cooked mixture of fat and flour. By cooking the two ingredients you create a substance, the roux, that simply loves additional liquid. The cooked roux literally unwinds in the liquid and thickens it — my thanks to Alton Brown for the food science here.
There is one key secret: the roux is made in the same pan you roasted the turkey in. When you lift the turkey out, don’t dare clean that pan. Pour the liquid out into a measuring cup, or better yet one of those fat separator utensils.
With the liquid pour out, that roasting pan is literally littered with flavoring bits. They are the third, “secret” ingredient for you roux.
One last tip for you, when you make the roux, and are cooking the fat and flour, the longer you cook the darker and more flavorful the roux becomes. Cook for about 10 minutes and you have a “white roux.” Cook for 20 minutes or more and you have “brick” roux. White tastes fine. Brick will probably bring tears to your eyes. I made a brick roux once that I still remember, and have never been able to duplicate.
But there is a tradeoff. The longer you cook, the darker the roux becomes, the more flavor it will have, but the less thick gravy it will make. That over-the-top brick roux is only 25% as effective as a white roux at thickening. So, you need to ponder how much flavor you want versus how thick you want your gravy to become. And of course, as you cook the roux and it becomes darker, there is no way to “uncook it” to get back to a lighter color. Gravy making is a one way street.
This is the key reason why you can make gravy a hundred times and always end up something good but a tad unique. You haven’t failed. You’ve just been part of a chemistry experiment.
You will need:
- Fat from the liquid you poured off: 1 tablespoon for each cup of gravy
- Flour: 1-2 tablespoons for each tablespoon of fat
- Flavored liquid, such as turkey stock: 1 cup for each tablespoon of fat
Decide on how much gravy you want. For each cup of gravy, use one tablespoon of the fat that is sitting in that measuring cup or separator you pour the pan juice in. Put the fat into your pan, turn heat to medium, and begin stirring.
You can begin to add flour. Here, you’ll find recipes differ substantially. Typically, it’s one tablespoon of flour for each tablespoon of fat you’ve already added. But other recipes will say a tablespoon and a half or even two tablespoons. More flour should give a thicker gravy. Regular AP flour is fine, but Alton Brown recommends cake or pastry flour!
Cook the fat and flour over medium heat, constantly stirring. If your roasting pan is large, you may want to place it over two burners and have both them going. Keep stirring until you reach the color you desire. When the mixture bubbles, you are “done.” If the roux is not yet at the color you want, lower the heat a bit, keep cooking to change the color and adjust the heat so that you do get to a bubbling liquid.
Now add your flavored liquid, one cup for each tablespoon of fat you added. In that measuring cup where you put the pan liquids, the fat has floated to the top and you’ve used some of that fat to start the roux. Pour off the rest of the fat, and use the liquid in the bottom of the cup as a starting point. You’ll need additional liquid. You could use water, but you shouldn’t. You want chicken or turkey stock.
Cook and stir. Slowly let the mixture come to a boil. It will have thickened along the way. Add salt and pepper to your personal taste.
Remove from the heat. Serve and savor.
Source: inspired by Holly Garrison in The Thanksgiving Cookbook and Alton Brown in I’m Just here for the Food.
I posted this three years ago, but I’m repeating today for several reasons. It’s been just about the most popular post on this site. Second, everyone now is scrambling for “the” recipe for their turkey. Third, we tend to repeat our meal on Thanksgiving so why not repeat here the best recipes for this important American holiday.
Suzi and I are about to have our 26th Thanksgiving together. Believe me, we’ve tried a lot of things. There was that nasty goose idea where we nearly burned down the house. You think ducks have a fat problem? We’ve had turducken, deep fried turkey and even swathed a bird in puff pastry, complete with pastry cutouts of leaves and vines. It was beautiful. And it was so much work I have been informed by my wife to never, never request it again. Don’t worry about me, folks. I’ll find a way.
From all those experiences, though, here is the absolutely best and absolutely foolproof way to cook a wonderful turkey. Now, foolproof is pretty important. Not that any of you are fools, but … Thanksgiving Day can be a zoo. People coming and going. A rush of activity in the kitchen. Deadlines, missing ingredients. The chance that the Detroit Lions will actually win a football game.
Reduce your risk. Use this recipe and relish each
This secret to a great Thanksgiving turkey comes from Ogunquit, Maine. The very distinguished Arrows restaurant has received award after award. For decades they have demonstrated culinary excellence and ingenuity. Their cookbook, surprisingly named The Arrows Cookbook, is a treasure, filled with intriguing ideas.
And the very best of those ideas is their roast turkey. Brian and I, as you know, are always doing something new, something different. For years we had a new turkey idea each Thanksgiving. But for the past decade, we’ve always done our turkey this way. It was our introduction to brining and we were instant converts.
The picture you see above, of that great bird with mahogany skin, is what you achieve by following this recipe. Butter and cheesecloth and ladled stock can turn you into a foodie Michelangelo.
And the gravy. Brian is a gravy fanatic, but making it is always a bit of a chore. Both Brian and I are intimidating by it. I think the key reason is that by late afternoon on Thanksgiving we are tired. We’ve been cooking for hours, we are hungry, the smells fill the house, and now there is this one great step for mankind: gravy perfection. This gravy recipe is easy to follow, it works, and the results are wonderful. You just want to dip a spoon in and …
Two things you should know. Even if it is just two of us, we always get a humongous turkey. We love the leftovers — and yes there will be blogs on those in the coming days. And, the bigger the carcass, the more stock you can make. Use that stock through the winter for wonderful soups or broth for noodles. Homemade egg noodles with turkey broth is something that can make January warm.
And the second thing, a confession. We do cook brined turkeys always now. But we have a wonderful source for getting them already brined. In the rush of shopping and traveling, something had to give. Brine yourself if you can. Find a brined turkey source if you must.
Arrows’ Roast Turkey
Yield: Makes 8 serving
For the turkey:
- 1 fresh turkey, 15 to 20 pounds
- 1 to 2 3-pound boxes of kosher salt
- 1 cup olive oil
- 1 cup chopped herb leaves, such as tarragon, thyme, and sage
- 16 tablespoons butter at room tempter
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 3 cups chicken stock
Two days before serving, remove the giblets and neck from the cavities of the turkey and cut off the wing tips. Reserve for stock or gravy. Put the turkey into a 5-gallon or larger bucker and add enough cold water) about 3 gallons) to cover the bird. Removed the turkey and set it aside. (This tells you how much water you need to cover the bird.) To the bucket add 1 pound salt (roughly 2 cups) for every gallon or so of water and stir to dissolve it well. Return the turkey to the bucket, put it in a cool place, and let site for at least 8 hours. An unheated garage or porch overnight works fine in cool climates; otherwise remove a shelf from the refrigerator to clear enough space.
The next day, removed the truly from brine. Dry it thoroughly with paper towns. Discard the brine. Transfer the turkey to a large bowl. Pour the olive oil over the turkey and rub the herbs over the outside and inside the turkey. Cover with plastic wrap and marinate overnight in the refrigerator.
On the day of serving, preheat the oven to 450°F.
Scrape off the marinade. Transfer the turkey to a large roasting pan fitted with a rack. Rub the outside of the turkey with 1 stick of the butter to coat the entire bird. Sprinkle salt and pepper liberally over the outside and inside of the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen twine. Put the turkey into the oven and immediately reduce the heat to 325°F.
In a large sauce pan melt the remaining 1 stick of butter over medium heat. Remove the pan from the heat and let the butter cool. Put a quadruple layer of cheesecloth, about a foot square, into the pan and coat it with butter. In another saucepan, warm the chicken stock over medium-low heat.
After the turkey has roasted for about 1 to 1 ½ hours and skin is turning golden brown, lay the butter-soaked cheese cloth over the turkey breast to keep it moist. Ladle about 1 cup of the chick stock over the breast. Continue to baste the turkey with the warm stock every hour. Roast the turkey for about 3 hours total until a kitchen thermometer inserted into the thigh registers 175°F. Remove the turkey from the oven and discard the cheesecloth. Transfer the turkey to a platter, cover with foil and allow to rest of 1 hour before serving.
For the gravy:
- Fat and drippings from the roasted turkey
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 cups enriched stock or chicken stock
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
While the roast turkey is resting, pour the drippings from the roasting pan through a fine sieve into a small bowl. Wait about 5 minutes while the fat rises to the surface, then use a spoon or ladle to remove the fat. Reserve separated 1/4cup of the fat and all the pan juices. Discard the remaining fat.
Combine ¼ cup fat and the butter in a medium saucepan and warm over low heat until the butter is melted. Whisk in the flour and increase the heat to medium. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is slightly brown and has a nutty smell, about 3 minutes
Slowly pour the stock into the flour mixture, whisking until smooth. Stir in the reserve pan juice and bring the gravy to a boil over medium heat. Reduce the heat to very low and simmer for 10 minutes, whisking frequently so a not to scorch the gravy. Season with salt and pepper.
Pour the gravy through a fine sieve into another pot. Serve at once or cover and keep warm on the back of the stove for up to 2 hours.
Source: The Arrows Cookbook