The first step in making great gravy is, of course, roasting a turkey! The importance of the gravy is immeasureable in our house. We need it to be really good and flavorful and we need a lot of it because it becomes our favorite leftover meal… Waffles and Turkey Gravy. I usually need to spend a bit of energy rationing everyone’s intake of gravy during the dinner, but this year it was only my mother and I, so we had plenty of gravy for our Black Friday feast. As I mentioned in my Sage & Citrus Butter post, we chose a heritage breed turkey this year. And in order to harness the flavor and juiciness of a free-range bird, we first salted the breast under the skin and then rubbed about 1/2 of the flavorful butter under the skin and inside the cavity and let the turkey sit uncovered in the refrigerator over night before cooking.
The day of, we preheated the oven to 350° F, removed the turkey from the refrigerator and rubbed the outside of the bird with another 1/2 of the sage butter. We allowed the bird to come to room temperature (for at least an hour) and stuffed the cavity with 1 orange (in wedges), 1 lemon (I wedges), 3 cloves garlic (crushed), 1 onion (quartered), 2 stalks celery, more fresh sage, salt and pepper.
Another important step is making turkey broth, which we also do the day before. We added 1-1/2 cups homemade broth, 1 onion quartered and 2 stalks celery to the bottom of the roaster. A heritage bird needs a gentle cooking and we decided to use our old enameled turkey roaster and start the cooking with the turkey covered for the first hour. After one hour, we removed the lid and brushed 1/2 of the remaining sage butter over the bird and returned the roaster to the oven, uncovered for 45 minutes. After 45 minutes, we brushed the remaining sage butter over the bird and continued to cook for another 30 minutes. It was perfect!! We removed the turkey in its rack to rest on a sheet pan. It can and should rest for an hour before carving. It will stay hot! Then, FINALLY, you make the gravy.
My mother has made this gravy my entire life and she does it the “old-fashioned-way”. There is a certain amount of intuition needed when making this gravy and it’s hard to put into words, but here is my mother’s version:
Makes about 2 quarts and 1 cup of gravy
Turkey Drippings- a 10-12 lb. turkey will yield about 3/4 cup butter/fat and 2 cups drippings (pour drippings into a clear fat separator so that you can measure the fat to liquid ratio)
3/4 cup + more unbleached all- purpose flour- you need at least an equal amount of flour as you have fat- sometimes more
2 cups + maybe more Turkey Bone Broth
2-3 tsp Kitchen Bouquet Browning and Seasoning Sauce (this can be omitted, but we really like the color and richness it adds our gravy even though the ingredients may be iffy- it’s once a year!)
Salt & Pepper to taste
Place the roasting pan over two burners (medium heat) on the stove. Pour off the liquid from the fat/butter and add 3/4 cup butter/fat and equal parts flour to the roaster- whisk constantly for 3 minutes. Whisk in the 2 cups of defatted pan drippings and simmer, whisking gently to prevent lumps. Gradually whisk in 2 cups turkey broth.
Whisk and simmer. As it thickens add more broth as needed to get the desired consistency. Do this slowly as it will thicken- it takes at least 15 minutes, maybe 20-25.
If there is excess fat on the surface, mix 1/4 cup flour with 1 cup of broth in a Tupperware shaker. Add as much as is needed to “take up” the fat. (This is what I meant by intuition!)
Add 2-3 tsp of Kitchen Bouquet
Taste and adjust salt and pepper and be sure to save some for Waffles and Turkey Gravy!