Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gravy 101

In my family, gravy is the most important part of Thanksgiving. If the gravy fails, the dinner is less than memorable. The turkey is not the star of the day, the gravy is. We put gravy on most everything - the stuffing, the turkey, the mashed potatoes, the biscuits...pretty much everything but the sweet potatoes! My mother has called herself the Gravy Queen as long as I can remember, and it's for a good reason. She can make gravy like nobody's business. Given that I am just the lowly Gravy Princess, and only by birth not through true merit, these instructions come directly from my mother's original Thanksgiving diatribe, the eleven pages of instructions on how to "do" Thanksgiving.

Please note, lots of people make their gravy in their roasting pan - I'm not one of them. In part because I use a foil throwaway roasting pan (the horror, I know), but also because we've always made gravy in a big saucepan in our family.

Photo by chrstphre

Gravy 101

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- Remember most gravy is a mixture of melted fat and flour, to which meat broth is added. Fat and flour will mix lump-free. Flour and any other liquid will not.
- Early in the day, open bag inside turkey (neck and giblets and such). I only cook the neck and gizzard. The other things are the heart and liver – yuck. The neck is the biggest thing, and the gizzard looks like two symmetrically pieces bound together. Liver looks like liver, and heart looks like a heart/diamond shape. Put neck and gizzard in pot, add 2-3 cups water. Add a sprinkle of dried onion. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer, and let simmer as long as possible. When the water starts to boil, you may notice this “foamy” stuff. You can skim this off. This is going to be your base for gravy.
- 30-45 minutes before turkey should be done, and you have removed the foil from turkey, gather all the juices from the turkey you can in a measuring cup.
- Remove neck and gizzard from homemade broth (toss out), and strain broth into a measuring cup. Wash this same pot and use it to make the gravy.
- For both measuring cups, remove the fat. Use some of it for gravy, after deducing how much gravy you want.
- For each cup of edible gravy, you need

o 2 T fat
o 2 T flour
o 1 cup meat broth – fat removed

- Skim fat you’re using for gravy off of broth and put in gravy pot.
- Add your flour and a little salt.
- Stir over medium heat with a whisk until mixture boils.
- Remove from heat and stir in broth, return to heat and stir until it boils. Let boil 1 minute.
- Don’t forget to taste the gravy. It might need more salt or Accent.
- If the gravy is lumpy, you can strain it, if you must.
- If it's too thin, mix a tablespoon of melted butter with a tablespoon of flour. Bring the gravy up to a boil and whisk in the butter mixture to thicken your gravy. If the gravy is too thick, add a little more chicken broth, pan drippings or a little water and butter to thin it out.

Gravy Troubleshooting
Gravy is greasy: If the gravy seems greasy, a fat separator should eliminate the problem. You can also try to skim extra fat off with a wide-bowled spoon.

Gravy is doughy: If gravy has a doughy, chalky, or floury taste, you haven't cooked the flour enough. Turn up the heat to maintain a rapid simmer for several minutes; then thin it again, if necessary, with more stock or water.

Lumpy gravy: Don't worry if there are lumps. Really. They're tasty, usually. If the look of lumps really bothers you, just strain it before serving using a sieve. You could also toss your food processor or blender and process until smooth.

Thin gravy: If gravy is too thin, simmer over medium-high heat, allowing liquid to reduce more. If your gravy is still too thin, make a paste of equal parts flour and cold water, and add it a little at a time to the prepared gravy, whisking constantly until the gravy thickens.

Thick gravy: If gravy is too thick, gradually whisk in additional stock or broth, a little at a time into the gravy until it reaches desired consistency.

This is part two of my Thanksgiving survival series. Did you miss yesterday's Infamous Pumpkin Pie? Make sure to check it out here! I've also got my super-OCD Thanksgiving Timeline posted, too. And there's more to come next week, too, so stay tuned!


Sara said...

Do you think gravy is a regional thing? I'm intrigued by this. While I like it, we don't eat a lot of it and I'm from Indiana.

Now, I'm living in North Carolina and I feel like it gets more mention.

Either way, thanks for the tips!

pixielation said...

We don't do thanksgiving, but I'm a-tucking this one away for christmas! My gravy was the poorest part o the meal last year.

Jen said...

Hi Elizabeth,

Thank you for visiting my Blog. I love this post. I'm Italian and didn't grow up with brown gravy however my Husband is Irish and that's all he knows. I try BUT I'm never successful :O( As a matter of fact my MIL is coming early on Thanksgiving to make the gravy, LOL.

Happy Saturday Sharefest, I too am a Follower.

Maricris Zen Mama said...

Oooh I love gravy! I'm going to try this recipe. Thank you!!!

Susan Fobes said...

Wow! You do know your gravy. My husband usually cooks the neck and giblets and eats them-ooh! But, I might have him help me make your gravy this year instead of the fake jar stuff. Wish me luck!

Sarah Brown said...

Yum--that sounds great! Thanks for all the helpful hints!

Stopping by from SITS

Courtney (AKA MommaRoberts) said...

I nevr make it right italways ends up like dough! Thanks for this blog! I now know what to do and why.

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