I am always looking for ways to save time in the kitchen without sacrificing flavor and quality. The Thanksgiving meal consists of so many dishes that need to be ready to serve simultaneously. I try to do as much prep work ahead of time, and also prepare some dishes that won’t suffer by reheating at the last minute.
Gravy is one of those last-minute dishes. You have to wait for the turkey to be taken from the oven, you have to get the drippings from the pan, separate most of the fat from the juices, then proceed with the directions. At the same time, you are mashing potatoes, getting the cold dishes from the frig, checking casseroles in the oven, etc. etc. etc.
I can eliminate the worry about gravy by preparing it a day ahead of time. I found the basis for this recipe (I think in Woman’s Day magazine) quite a few years ago and have monkeyed with it now and then and here’s the current version.
GREATEST TURKEY GRAVY EVER – MAKE AHEAD
4-5 lbs. turkey wings*
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
2 medium carrots, cut in chunks
2 celery ribs, cut in chunks, with leaves
4-5 cloves garlic
olive oil or Pam
10 c. turkey or chicken broth, divided, 1c., 7 c., 2 c.
4 sprigs fresh thyme, or 1 t. dried
1 c. dry white wine
2 T. butter
3/4 c. flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1. Turn oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place poultry pieces in roasting pan with the vegetables. Add a tablespoon of olive oil (or spray with Pam) and toss them around to coat. Roast uncovered for 1 1/2 hours, stirring once or twice. Remove turkey and everything to a 5-6 quart heavy pot or Dutch oven.
3. Add 1 c. broth to the roasting pan and scrape up any browned bits that remain and add to the pot with the turkey and veggies. Add 7 cups of the turkey broth and wine and thyme. (Refrigerate the remaining 2 cups of broth until the next day.)
4. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, about 1 1/2 hours.
5. Remove turkey.(When cool, pull off the skin and save the meat for another use.) Strain the broth into another pan, pressing on the veggies to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the vegetables. Let the sauce cool slightly and then refrigerate, overnight is great, so that the fat rises to the top. The next day, remove and discard as much of the fat as your diet requires.
6. Whisk the remaining 2 c. of broth into the 3/4 c. flour until smooth. Bring the gravy to a gentle boil in a saucepan. Whisk in the flour/broth mixture and boil 4-5 minutes to thicken and to cook the flour. Stir in butter and salt and pepper to taste. Serve or refrigerate in smaller containers up to 5 days or freeze up to 1 month.
7. If making a day ahead, start reheating in heavy saucepan over medium low heat at least a half-hour before serving. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan. (If using frozen gravy, let it thaw in the frig a day ahead.)
*(or use wings, drumsticks, necks, also giblets –liver discarded-(if you can’t find those parts, use chicken wings, necks, backs, whatever. You just need 4-5 lbs. of “bird” pieces)