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Make-Ahead Turkey Gravy Recipe

'America’s Test Kitchen' shares ingredients and directions

Easy Thanksgiving

Daniel J. van Ackere/America’s Test Kitchen

What does it take to make that perfect gravy?

You can't serve turkey without gravy (and if you ask us, the same goes for mashed potatoes and stuffing, too), but this key part of any holiday feast is often left to the last minute, frantically cobbled together once the bird emerges from the oven. Our make-ahead gravy relieves some of the stress of holiday hosting and even boasts bigger turkey flavor than your typical gravy recipe. Good gravy comes from good stock, so we started by roasting turkey parts with chopped carrots, celery, onions and garlic. Once the meat was deeply browned and the vegetables caramelized, we transferred everything to a Dutch oven. Chicken broth and white wine plus some sprigs of thyme promised flavorful, savory complexity. Following a lengthy simmer, we strained out the solids and proceeded with our gravy making (though the stock can be refrigerated or frozen for later use). We used the stock's fat to build a roux, browning a cup of flour in the heated fat before whisking in the stock. The finished gravy boasted all the body of a traditional preparation, but it was ready with time to spare and offered incredible meaty depth. If you wish to make this gravy at the same time as your turkey, you may add the giblets and neck along with the thighs or wings in step 1. Discard the strong-tasting liver before using the giblets. For more flavor, after roasting the turkey, skim the drippings from the pan and slowly add them to the gravy in step 4 (tasting as you go so the gravy does not become overly salty).

Makes about 2 quarts

Total time: 4 hours 30 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 6 turkey thighs, trimmed, or 9 wings, separated at the joints
  • Reserved turkey giblets and neck, optional
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped coarse
  • 2 medium celery ribs, chopped coarse
  • 2 medium onions, chopped coarse
  • 1 head garlic, halved
  •  Vegetable oil spray
  • 10 cups chicken broth, plus extra as needed
  • 2 cups dry white wine
  • 12 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Unsalted butter, as needed
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • Defatted turkey drippings, optional

Directions: 

  1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss thighs, giblets (if using), carrots, celery, onions and garlic together in large roasting pan and spray with vegetable oil spray. Roast, stirring occasionally, until well browned, 1½ to 1¾ hours.
  2. Transfer contents of roasting pan to Dutch oven. Add broth, wine and thyme sprigs, and bring to boil, skimming as needed. Reduce to gentle simmer and cook until broth is brown and flavorful and measures about 8 cups when strained, about 1½ hours. Strain broth through fine-mesh strainer into large container, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids.
  3. Let strained turkey broth settle (if necessary), then spoon off and reserve ½ cup of fat that has risen to top (add butter as needed if short on turkey fat). Heat fat in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until bubbling. Whisk in flour and cook, whisking constantly, until well browned, 3 to 7 minutes.
  4. Slowly whisk in turkey broth and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until gravy is very thick, 10 to 15 minutes. Add defatted drippings, if using, to taste, then season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

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