I think gravy is something a lot of people struggle with on Thanksgiving. I hear lots of talk about lumpy gravy, thin gravy, just plain gross gravy… well, I wouldn’t know. I’ve always had fabulous gravy. Thanks to Auntie Sal. After one Thanksgiving up at Sally’s and we knew we would never, EVER, make gravy any other way. Be sure to thank her for sharing her recipe with us, and letting us share it with you. Your Thanksgiving table will never be the same again.
The secret to this gravy? Well, there are a couple. The first is that just about all of it can be done in advance. Don’t let the mention of homemade stock scare you, it’s much easier than you might think. Plan ahead, make the stock a day or two beforehand. Then the day of, all you need to do is thicken it and then dump it in the roasting pan once the turkey comes out of it.
The other secret is the Madeira. If you’re wondering what gives this gravy its rich body and depth of flavor, that’s it. Just a dash of this unique Portuguese wine takes the gravy from good to amazing. It’s a secret we’ve stolen and adapted to use in our own homemade chicken stock recipe (shh, don’t tell!). Sure, you could substitute Port or even just more turkey stock in its place, but it wouldn’t be the same.
Something to consider when making this, or any gravy: we brine our turkey. Which makes for a moist and delicious turkey, however, brined turkeys also make for salty pan drippings. And since the gravy uses these drippings for most of its goodness, your gravy will likely be pretty salty. Some may say too salty. With this in mind, go very light (or skip completely) any other mention of salting the stock or otherwise. And feel free to thin down the gravy even further with water or more (unsalted) stock. We even tried plopping a few raw potato pieces and letting them cook a while with the gravy. Not sure if it did anything to cut the salt, but we figured it couldn’t hurt. But you know what? It didn’t matter. Once it’s slathered over the potatoes and turkey and everything else on your plate, salt is the last thing on your mind. This gravy is just too darn delicious otherwise to even care about salty this or salty that.
Auntie Sal’s Holiday Turkey Gravy
Makes plenty. Recipe from Auntie Sal.
Turkey neck, gizzard, and heart (not the liver)
4 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped carrot
1 cup dry white wine
1 teaspoon salt
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon sage
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 cup Madeira
Turkey pan drippings
The day (or several days) before the feast, make turkey stock. Coarsely chop turkey giblets. Preheat olive oil in a heavy stockpot. Add giblets and quickly brown, stirring occasionally. Remove from pot and set aside.
Add to onion and carrot to pot. Cover and cook slowly until tender. Uncover pot, raise heat and cook until veggies are browned. Return giblets to pot, add wine and enough water to cover by 1”.
Add salt and herbs to pot and simmer, partially covered for 1½ to 2 hours. Strain sock, allow to cool, and refrigerate over night.
Remove stock from fridge and scrape off fat with spoon. Whisk cornstarch with 1/4 cup stock or wine. Bring remaining stock to a boil. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and simmer 2-3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Thickened stock mixture can be cooled and refrigerated till needed.
Degrease turkey drippings as best as you can. Add the thickened stock to roasting pan and stir over high heat for about 2 minutes, scraping bits from bottom of pan. Transfer to sauce pan.
Degrease again and season with salt and pepper (only if needed). If gravy is too thick it may be thinned with more Madiera or broth as necessary. Reheat and serve.