Suzi's Blog

Turkey Stock for Gravy

cup of turkey stock

Gravy. After blood, the most precious liquid known to man. And that turkey gravy recipe you have may well call for using turkey stock. Here is a fast, easy, but delicious stock recipe from The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan.

This recipe uses those “extra turkey parts” or giblets stuffed inside your turkey. Or you can buy a package of turkey giblets separately, and make this stock ahead of time. Stock is a wonderful tool to have in your freezer anyway. The stock is an excellent base for making enriched soups during the cold of winter.

The yield here is relatively small: 3 cups. You begin with much more liquid, but reduce it down over time to generate a thick, flavor rich stock. You may want to double this recipe to have extra, beyond Turkey Day, to freeze.

If you are going to make a bigger batch, Diane suggests using about 5 pounds of turkey wings, thighs, or drumsticks in place of the giblets and turkey neck listed in this recipe and double the quantities of the rest of the ingredients. Brown the turkey parts in a roasting pan in a preheated 400°F oven for 1 ½ hours. Transfer them to a stockpot and proceed with the recipe, starting after the browning step.

Preparation here is made easy for you several ways. You don’t peel the carrot or get all the skin off the onion. You get a head start by using some canned chicken stock, so make that head start count by finding an upscale brand.

If you buy a separate package of turkey parts to make this stock or use the giblets from inside the neck, the package should include the liver. Diane says to NOT use the liver in this stock, because it may add a bitter taste. But you can, if you choose, cook the liver, chop it up and add it to your dressing.

Turkey Stock

Yield: 3 cups

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 turkey neck, tail, gizzard, and heart
  • 1 yellow onion, root end trimmed but peel left intact, quartered
  • 1 large carrot, scrubbed but not peeled, cut into 2-inch chunks
  • 1 large rib celery including leafy tops, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths
  • 2 Sprigs fresh thyme
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 2 cups canned low sodium chicken broth
  • 5 cups cold water

Preparation:

In a large saucepan, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the turkey neck, tail, gizzard, and heart and sauté until browned on all sides, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the onion, carrot, celery, thyme, parsley, bay leaf, peppercorns, chicken broth, and water to the pan.

Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then reduce the heat to low. Skim any brown foam that rises to the top. Simmer the stock until it reduces by half, about 1 hour. Pour the stock through a fine-mesh sieve set over a bowl or 4-cup glass measure.

Set aside the neck, gizzard, and heart until cool enough to handle. Discard the rest of the solids. Let the stock cool completely.

Skim off any fat that rises to the top. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use. (When you’re ready to make gravy, skim the fat from the top of the stock again, if necessary.)

If making giblet gravy, shred the meat from the neck and finely dice the gizzard and heart. Cover and refrigerate until you are ready to use. (Some cooks prefer to make a smooth gravy and add the diced gizzard and heart to their stuffing.)

Source: The New Thanksgiving Table by Diane Morgan

Gravy Making Tips

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Earlier this week I blogged Arrows Roast Turkey. I have a big bird in the oven now and is following that recipe to the letter. That recipe has gravy instructions which are terrific.

Still, many people feel rushed or overwhelmed by the time the turkey is out, carving is imminent and somehow perfect gravy has to be constructed. Do you lack gravy confidence?

Let me give you a bit more detail about gravy construction. I’ll try to make it easier to understand how easy is really is to make gravy that is truly lip smacking.

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.

Let’s cook.

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.