Irma R., a novice home cook, turns to F&W’s Tina Ujlaki with her kitchen questions. This month, the topic is gravy: how to get more turkey drippings, how to make stock and how to make an easy turkey gravy.Plus: F&W’s Ultimate Thanksgiving Recipe Guide
In this Article
Expert Advice for Perfect Gravy
I wish I could figure out how to get drippings for gravy when I cook a turkey. I always roast my bird at a high heat to finish it faster and brown the outside, but I end up with hardly any drippings.
Yours truly, Irma
If you roast your bird at more than 375° without adding any stock to the pan, you may find yourself with some delicious caramelized juices that are virtually welded on, as well as some fat, but no drippings to speak of. I didn’t know the best way to get drippings until I tested a recipe a few years ago that called for roasting the turkey, with some stock, at 350°. It’s quite amazing, because you end up with incredibly tasty drippings. For a gorgeously browned bird, you can always hike up the oven temperature at the last minute.
Thanks for the advice—this time I got lots of drippings. I made gravy with them, but I came away frustrated because it was too thin. How do I fix that?
Your confused friend, Irma
The consistency of gravy is easy to correct. If your gravy is thin, simply make a smooth paste with equal amounts of all-purpose flour and unsalted butter, bring your gravy to a boil and gradually whisk in bits of the paste until you get the thickness you desire. Be sure to cook the gravy for at least 5 minutes after you’ve added the paste, in order to eliminate any raw flour flavor. As a general guideline, for 2 cups of liquid, 3 tablespoons each of butter and flour will yield a lightly thickened gravy; 4 tablespoons each will yield a medium-thick one.
I made gravy again, and the consistency was perfect. But I used canned chicken broth and the flavor was pretty dull. Is there anything I could have done to make my gravy taste better?
Yours gratefully, Irma
You can dress up a humdrum gravy with anything from mushrooms, caramelized shallots, chopped fresh herbs and olives to sausage, country ham, giblets and cider, sherry or Madeira. You can even add a little touch of cream or crème fraîche. And don’t forget the salt and freshly ground pepper; proper seasoning can make all the difference between a flat sauce and a lively one. But I’m afraid nothing can duplicate the flavor of using homemade stock. Even if you usually wouldn’t consider making stock, I’d encourage you to do so at Thanksgiving. The recipe here is one from the F&W Test Kitchen that we’ve relied on for years.
Best Gravy Recipes
Photo © Maura McEvoy.
Chef Barbara Lynch uses otherwise unused parts of the bird to make this intensely flavored turkey gravy. She browns the liver, and simmers the heart and gizzard in turkey stock before combining all three parts into a rich, nutty roux.
This classic turkey gravy, made with reserved pan juices from this Perfect Roast Turkey recipe and white wine, can be made up to three days in advance.
Photo © Wendell T. Webber.
Preparing stock weeks in advance simplifies the gravy-making process, but it’s also great for thinning soups, braising vegetables and moistening stuffings.