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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Gram's Good Ole Turkey Gravy

Making gravy can sometimes be a challenge, especially when we only prepare it on special holiday occasions. To produce delicious, lump-free gravy for Thanksgiving dinner, here are a few Chef Alli tips, along with Grandma’s recipe, to ensure your success:

• Allow at least ½ cup gravy per person – more if you have several big-eaters coming for dinner. I usually double my gravy recipe, just to be sure plenty of gravy remains for leftovers – you can never have too much gravy!

• When making turkey gravy, I prefer to use cornstarch as my thickening agent, instead of flour, mostly because this is how my Grandma did it, and by using her exact recipe, it brings back a lot of childhood memories. Sauces and gravies made with cornstarch look rather “clear” in appearance, rather than opaque, and typically have a nice sheen, which is kind of nice for turkey gravy, in this humble chef’s opinion. I also think it’s unusual that Gram’s recipe calls for using milk to make the slurry, instead of water.

• To thicken gravy when using cornstarch, it’s usually best to make a “slurry first”. I make my slurry by whisking a small amount of water (usually ¼ - ½ cup is plenty) with 1 Tbs. cornstarch until smooth. The slurry is then added to the liquids (usually broth) and pan drippings that you want thickened to create your gravy. As a rule, you will need 1 Tbs. of cornstarch for every 2 cups of broth you are using to make your gravy. For a flavorful gravy, it helps to remember this: 1 Tbs. cornstarch (or flour) + 1 Tbs. drippings + 2 cups liquid. Just know that you will always be adjusting these measurements slightly, as you are whisking and thickening your gravy.

• Good tools are essential for creating good gravy – I recommend a silicone-coated FLAT whisk; this tool will allow you to get right up to the very edge of your pan so that you can whisk constantly for a nice, smooth, lump-free sauce or gravy – very important! Plus, you will need a nice, deep stainless steel (cast iron is even better!) skillet for preparing gravy – 12” is a good size.

Gram’s Recipe
Make giblet broth:
1 pkg. turkey giblets (this is the package that’s inside your turkey)
1 medium carrot, thickly sliced
1 medium onion, thickly sliced
1 medium celery rib, thickly sliced
1/ 2 tsp. kosher salt

1 cup whole milk
2 Tbs. cornstarch

In a 3 quart sauce pan over high heat, place reserved turkey giblets (these usually include the neck, heart, and gizzard) along with the vegetables, adding enough water to cover all. Heat to boiling; reduce heat to low and simmer for approx. 1 hour, skimming any foam from the top. Strain mixture through a fine-mesh strainer and into a bowl, discarding solids. Cover and store in refrigeration until ready to use.

Place 2-3 Tbs. drippings from turkey roasting pan, into a large skillet over medium heat. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup whole milk with 2 Tbs. cornstarch; whisk until smooth to make slurry. Whisk slurry into drippings, and bring mixture to a low boil. Simmer, whisking constantly, adding prepared broth as you go to achieve gravy consistency you desire. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

8-10 servings of gravy

Now You're Cookin',
Chef Alli