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Don’t be afraid to make your own gravy

  • Published Monday, Nov. 25, 2013, at 5:16 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Nov. 27, 2013, at 6:30 a.m.

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Thanksgiving is Thursday – a time we express gratitude as we celebrate with feasting, family and football.

From those of you preparing the feast, the age-old question of “How do you make gravy?” keeps surfacing. Experienced cooks will confidently whisk gravy together in a few minutes because they have done it countless times and innately know how it is supposed to look and taste, perhaps adding a little more of this-or-that in the process.

But for those of you who have never made turkey gravy, it seems very mysterious. One of my students actually confessed she has no fear of roasting the turkey – she has that down pat. But she buys gravy in a jar because she is does not know how to make it. Nothing could be more simple. My advice is to save your money and use those wonderful pan juices from the turkey to make a fabulous gravy. It will taste far superior to any that you purchase in a jar.

There are two basic ways to make turkey gravy. One method starts with making a roux – using some of the fat from the drippings and adding flour to make a loose paste, then adding turkey broth and cooking it until it thickens.

But the second method is easier and also my favorite. It uses a slurry (flour and water mixture) to thicken the pan drippings. It is a little lighter, has less fat but the pan drippings give it a rich flavor. Actually, making gravy is more of a process than a recipe.

Here’s how I make turkey gravy:

Remove the turkey from the roasting pan to a platter, cover it loosely with foil and let it rest. Pour the pan juices into a large glass measure or bowl.

Meanwhile, add 1 cup water to the roasting pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon or heat-resistant spatula, scraping up the crisp bits that are stuck to the pan. Add that to the pan juices in the bowl. After 5 minutes, the fat will rise to the top; skim that off and discard. You don’t need those calories. Strain and measure the drippings.

For three cups gravy, you will need three cups pan drippings. Don’t worry if you don’t have that much, just add a good quality, low-sodium canned chicken broth until you have 3 cups. Pour into a 2-quart saucepan.

To make the slurry (thickening agent), place 1 cup cold water in a 2-cup glass measuring cup and whisk in a 1/2 cup of flour until the lumps are gone. If lumps persist, just strain it.

Place saucepan with broth over medium heat and whisk in the slurry. Bring to a boil, whisking constantly; simmer for a minute or two. If too thick, thin down with more chicken broth. For thicker gravy, let it simmer and reduce a bit or stir in a bit more slurry.

Just remember the gravy needs to come to a boil and continue to simmer for a couple of minutes for the flour to cook and to thicken the gravy.

Season with salt and pepper. If you have whisked properly, you will have no lumps. But if you need more practice at the whisking technique, don’t fret – just strain the lumps out and serve it with the turkey. It will be delicious.

Bonnie Aeschliman is a certified culinary professional who owns Cooking at Bonnie’s Place in Wichita.

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