Gravy. It’s the lubricant that makes overcooked turkey palatable, and perfectly cooked turkey that much better. It’s the magical liquid that anoints and unites the potluck of sides from various family and friends that get squished together on your plate.
The fact that the best gravy can only be made after the turkey is removed from the oven, during the 30 or so most stressful minutes of the whole day, when all the accompaniments must be heated and readied for their finishing touches, adds to the angst often associated with this beloved liquid.
But it needn’t be a nerve-racking process. The two best and easiest ways I know to make it involve flour in the form of a roux (a cooked mixture of fat and flour), or a slurry (a smooth mixture of flour and water). A roux-based gravy is made in a saucepan. The slurry-style gravy is made in the roasting pan. Both methods require a large liquid measure.
Note: If you brined your turkey, don’t use the pan juices; they’ll be too salty.
- Save your pan juices and separate the juices from the fat that floats on top. Set aside the fat to use in the roux or discard it if making the roux with another fat, such as butter or oil.
- Add 1 cup water, wine, stock, or broth to the roasting pan and boil it briefly, scraping the bottom with a metal pancake turner, to dissolve the caramelized pan juices and loosen the yummy brown bits remaining in the pan, then add to the pan juices in the glass measure.
- Add enough stock or broth to the glass measure to total the amount of gravy you want to end up with. I factor on ½ cup per person, which is generous.
- Commit this equation to memory: 1 tablespoon fat plus 1 tablespoon flour thickens 1 cup of liquid. For eight people, that’s 4 cups liquid and a roux made of 4 tablespoons fat and 4 tablespoons flour.
- Heat the fat over medium-low heat, then whisk in the flour and cook it, whisking, for 3 minutes.
- Add the liquid (in a fast stream if the liquid is hot), whisking the whole time, and bring the mixture to a boil, whisking.
- Once it’s boiling, reduce the heat and simmer the gravy, whisking occasionally, 5 to 10 minutes. Season the gravy with salt and pepper and strain it through a sieve into another saucepan or directly into the gravy boat.
- Tilt your roasting pan and spoon off the fat floating on the top of the pan juices.
- Add 1 cup water, wine, stock, or broth to the roasting pan and boil it briefly, scraping the bottom with a metal pancake turner, to dissolve the caramelized pan juices and loosen the yummy brown bits remaining in the pan.
- Measure the liquid and add enough stock/broth to reach the total amount of gravy you want to end up with. Factor ½ cup per person, which is generous.
- Commit this equation to memory: 1 tablespoon flour plus 1 tablespoon water will thicken 1 cup liquid. For eight people, that’s 4 cups liquid and a slurry made of 4 tablespoons flour and 4 tablespoons water.
- Add all the liquid to the roasting pan and bring it to a boil.
- Whisk the water into the flour in a small bowl. If the slurry is too thick to pour, whisk in a little more water. Add the slurry to the boiling stock in a stream, whisking, and simmer the gravy, whisking, 5 to 10 minutes. Season it with salt and pepper and strain it through a sieve into a saucepan or directly into the gravy boat.