Real Gravy

22 Nov

My dear friend, Agnes, asked me how I made gravy; so, I thought I’d appease her, and anyone out there with gravy-avoidance syndrome.

Which reminds me of the time, years ago, when I had Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Hubby’s mom was known around them parts as the gravy-making queen. Somehow, she had developed a reputation for it, which held for a couple of generations. Until I saw her, up close and personal, start to make it.

She had prepared it using the known steps: using the turkey juice renderings; using a thickening agent; and heat. But, something foreign-looking to me appeared from her satchel. Yes, really. A satchel. A small bottle of dark liquid was uncapped and slowly poured into the nearly white, flour-y “gravy,” bubbling rapidly on my stove, like a witch’s brew. There were “oohs” and “aahs” from the daughters-in-law onlookers, as if some magic potion had turned the anemic gravy into a rising star.

This “magic potion” was none other than a liquid corn syrup with artificial everything. I had heard about it, but Kaukab never used it. Her gravy always looked like the pre-potion version.

After that, I decided I’d make my own. From that moment on, I made it using the traditional method. No artificial anything in my gravy.

What’s the secret, you may ask? It all starts with a great broth. I always rub my turkey with butter and season with garlic salt and cracked black pepper, and dried sage, rubbing it all over. I also cut large pieces of onions, celery, carrots, and 2 or 3 whole garlic cloves and put them in the turkey’s cavity, along with rubbing a little sea salt and more pepper. These will flavor the broth rendered during the roasting period. I also take the giblets and neck bone and cook them in water with salt and pepper.  Once cooked and cooled, I strain the liquid a couple of times, reserving it to use for making the gravy. This will impart additional flavor. You don’t have to, though. It’ll still taste good without this step. You can also use chicken broth (a cup or two).

Making the gravy. You can do it one of two ways:

If you’re making it straight from the same roasting pan then do it this way:

1. Remove the turkey.

2. Skim most of the fat from the broth.

3. Lightly mash the cooked veggies, or some of them into the broth.

4. With roasting pan on the burners, turn heat to high and bring to boil. Meanwhile, in a measuring cup, put in 2 to 2-1/2 Tbs.  of  flour and with a fork, slowly stir while adding cold water, filling it to 3/4 to 1 C. full. (This will depend on how much gravy you’ll be making.)

5. If  you don’t have a lot of broth rendered, then use chicken broth or a little white wine to deglaze the pan, if you’ve not made the giblet water mixture.

6. Slowly add the flour/water mixture to the bubbling turkey broth, using a wisk and stirring quickly and constantly to get it smooth.

7. Taste, and adjust for flavor by adding more salt and pepper.

8. Let cook on med. high for another 10 -15 min. to get the flour taste out and reduce so will thicken a little. Once cooled, will thicken a bit more.

The other version is what I did at our Thanksgiving #1 party. This was because the turkey was cooked in one of those huge roasters, so it not only rendered lots of turkey broth, but the roasting unit wasn’t going to work for the method described above. In this case, I poured the broth into an iron cast skillet (doesn’t have to be; it’s what our cook had and I like them) and brought the broth up to boiling. I then proceeded with the same steps described above.

And, that’s about it.  The thing about gravy is that it’s about preparing the broth for both color and flavor. So, by using veggies in your turkey roasting and seasonings, you’ll never have to resort to the magic-making that SOME do.

In Kaukab’s case, there’s nothing artificial about her.


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