Here's how to get a jump on Thanksgiving dinner's most essential component.

I've never understood why nearly every turkey recipe starts with putting the bird in the roasting pan and ends with making gravy—in the roasting pan. Tilting the fat out of the pan is struggle enough when every surface in the kitchen is covered with dishes and you're trying to get the meal and the crowd to the table. And then to have to fuss with taking up 2 burners to whisk flour and then stock into a large pan of drippings, all the while worrying about lumps. And then in the end, there isn't enough gravy anyway. Why?

It's so easy to make the gravy base in advance, so all that's left once the turkey is done is reheat, scrape in the tasty drippings and adjust the seasonings. You're basically making what is classically called a veloute, and the proportions couldn't be simpler: 1 Tbsp. fat to 1 Tbsp. flour to 1 cup stock, for a thin gravy. If you prefer a thicker gravy, increase the fat and flour to 1 1/2 Tbsp. each. These proportions can be increased incrementally to make any amount. Simply melt the fat in the pan and stir in the flour over moderate heat until fully incorporated. Gradually whisk in the stock until blended and bring to a simmer. Cook, whisking, for about 3 minutes to fully cook the flour. Season lightly and let cool. Then refrigerate (or freeze, if you're really thinking ahead) until ready to use.