Nothing saves a Thanksgiving turkey disaster like a robust gravy. A bland bird is instantly made succulent, and over-mashed potatoes are quickly revived. But visions of Aunt Barbara's gravy, dotted with flour dumplings from a roux gone wrong, make Campbell's look mighty tempting. Put the can back on the shelf. Gravy preparation doesn't have to cause nightmares or small kitchen fires. The following "how-to" eliminates potential calamity and produces a flavorful gravy with relative ease.
It's all about the "Bits"
An outstanding gravy depends on a well-prepared and closely-monitored turkey. The rich flavor comes from the drippings and the brown bits that gather in the bottom of the roasting pan. Keep the turkey low in the pan and line the bottom with chopped carrots and celery. While cooking, if you notice that the pan is dry and the drippings few, pour white wine and chicken broth over the turkey.
Making the Gravy
Remove the cooked turkey, vegetables, and roasting rack from the pan. Pour the drippings into a separate container, allowing the fat to separate and leaving the crusty brown bits in the pan. Add either chicken broth or turkey stock to the roasting pan, and stir to loosen the bits from the bottom. Strain the deglazed stock into a pot. After you've discarded the fat, add the drippings and cook over medium heat.
Adding the Finishing Touches
In a separate cup, mix a few tablespoons of flour with enough water to make a runny paste. While whisking the drippings and stock, add 1 to 2 tablespoons of the flour-water mixture. If you don't whisk, expect Aunt Barbara's dumplings. Allow to simmer to eliminate the raw flour taste. The gravy will thicken, but feel free to add more of the flour-water mixture if the gravy is too thin. If you overdo the flour, a little broth or white wine should work. Gravy making is all about making adjustments on the run. Don't be afraid to play with seasonings. If you survived stuffing and roasting a turkey, making gravy should be a cakewalk.