My World Wednesday: Gravy

I have a confession: I can’t make gravy. Growing up we had gravy every time we had mashed potatoes, all kinds of delicious gravy from chicken to roast beef to turkey. I can remember well my mother’s standing at the stove whisking a slurry of corn starch and water into the meat drippings.

When I first got married, I tried making gravy. Instead of nice, smooth, rich gravy, I had goopy, lumpy, greasy ickiness. My husband, who normally eats everything in sight, wouldn’t even touch it. For the next several years, I used gravy mix that came in packs. Just add water and you have gravy. Only it was really terrible too.

Next I tried jarred gravy. A step up from the packets but there was always an off taste that screamed not-homemade. For years I bought this kind of gravy whenever I had guests for dinner. Maybe I could pull off passable gravy and maybe I’d have to reach for the jarred stuff. I never took a chance.

My husband and I eat our mashed potatoes plain or maybe with a pat of butter. We’ve given up on gravy. The only problem with that is one must have gravy for Thanksgiving dinner. Really. I think it is a law.

On many Thanksgivings, I’d always ask my mother to make the gravy at the last minute. She was usually dressed up and it wasn’t very nice of me to ask her to risk getting gravy all over herself. But as always her gravy was good and everyone poured it on.

Then a few years ago Woman’s Day magazine had an article on fool-proof gravy. I tried it and it worked. The gravy was beautifully smooth, tasty and the recipe made a lot. And most of the work was done in advance. I’ve used the recipe ever since.

Since the holidays are coming up and your family might be expecting gravy, I want to share the gravy recipe with you. If your gravy isn’t the best, try it this way. I usually start this as soon as the turkey goes in the oven. It simmers gently while I'm doing other things and since nothing else needs the stovetop at that time, it doesn't cause congestion.

Turkey neck and giblets
6 cups chicken broth
2 large onions, sliced
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup dry white wine or water
½ cup celery leaves
6 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
¾ cup flour
Turkey drippings
Salt and pepper to taste

Put the first six ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer gently, uncovered, for 2 hours.

Remove the giblets to a cutting board. Strain the broth into a large cup measure, pressing the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard the veggies. Add extra water to the broth if needed to make 6 cups. Chop the giblets and neck meat. Refrigerate them.

Mash the butter and flour with a fork until blended into a paste. Break it into 4 chunks.
Bring the broth to a boil, reduce the heat to low and gradually whisk in the flour mixture, 1 chunk at a time until well blended. Whisk until thickened and boiling. Boil for 3 minutes to cook out any floury taste. At this point, I usually take the gravy outside to cool and wait until needed. If it isn’t cold where you are, of course, stick it in the fridge.

After the turkey is cooked, pour the pan drippings into a 2-cup glass measure. Spoon the fat from the top and discard. Add enough water to equal 2 cups. Pour the mixture back into the roasting pan. Stir in the giblets and neck meat. Heat over medium-low heat scraping up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan, until hot. Season to taste. Serves 12.