Monday, November 24, 2008

Turkey Gravy

I remember the very first Thanksgiving I made on my own. I was newly married and been trying my hand at cooking more and more. I was feeling somewhat confidant making some standard, simple dishes for my family, but when it came to my first Thanksgiving, I was waaaaaaaaaaaaaay out of my league. I knew nothing about cooking a turkey. I had never made multiple dishes that needed to be finished at the same time. I had never made gravy before. Ever. In the end, the gravy turned out to be one of the biggest disasters from the entire meal!

I waited until the very last thing to make the gravy for no other reason than that's what I had seen my mom do for years! When my gravy wasn't thickening and all of the food was already plated and getting colder and colder, I was beyond panicked. It was at that time, as I was talking to my mom on the phone for help, that I decided this would NEVER happen again.

This recipe is the result of that initial catastrophe and the one I have used year after year without fail....and without another mishap of any kind. However, gravy in and of itself is not overly difficult. You just need to know what to do and expect. That goes for an entire Thanksgiving meal as well. It's not overly difficult if you are adequately prepared with ingredients, recipes, and have a good handle on the time.

Reserved turkey giblets , neck, and backbone, hacked into 2-inch pieces
1 medium carrot , cut into 1-inch pieces
1 rib celery , cut into 1-inch pieces
2 small onions , chopped coarse
6 cloves garlic , unpeeled
3 1/2cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth (two 14 1/2-ounce cans) 2 cups dry white wine
3 cups water
6 sprigs fresh thyme
3 tablespoons cornstarch
Table salt and ground black pepper

1. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place turkey trimmings, carrot, celery, onions, and garlic in large flameproof roasting pan. For Thanksgiving, I always used a disposable pan. Less to clean later!Spray lightly with cooking spray and toss to combine. Roast, stirring every 10 minutes, until well-browned, 40 to 50 minutes.

2. Remove roasting pan from oven, and place over burner(s) set at high heat; add chicken stock and bring to boil, scraping up browned bits on bottom of pan with wooden spoon.

3. Transfer contents of roasting pan to large saucepan. Add wine, 3 cups water, and thyme; bring to boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer until reduced by half, about 1 1/2 hours. Strain stock into large measuring cup or container. Cool to room temperature; cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until fat congeals, at least 1 hour.

4. To finish gravy, skim fat from stock using soup spoon, if present. Pour stock through fine-mesh strainer to remove remaining bits of fat; discard bits in strainer. Bring stock to boil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Mix together cornstarch with equal parts water. Gradually add to hot stock, mixing while adding. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes.

5. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with turkey...and mashed potatoes...and stuffing...and ENJOY!

Original recipe from Cook's Illustrated, November 2001, Revisions mine.

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