Although a scrumptious, silky gravy is an essential Thanksgiving dinner component at my house, and probably yours, but gravies can enhance many dishes and shouldn’t be reserved for just one time of year.
Turkey gravy, chicken gravy, biscuits and gravy, mushroom gravy, even vegan gravy can be made easily at home with basic ingredients, no powdered packets necessary. With a few simple steps, you can produce a rich, flavorful gravy in minutes.
All gravies begin with the “Golden Formula” which is:
1 tablespoon of fat, 1 tablespoon of flour and 1 cup of liquid.
The fat and broth can be derived from the pan drippings of cooked meat. For example, once a turkey or roast is cooked, remove the meat and deglaze the pan by placing the pan over high heat, adding broth as necessary to quickly whisk the small bits from the bottom of the pan. Remove this liquid from the pan and place it in a measuring cup or gravy separator.
Skim a tablespoon of fat from the top of the drippings for each cup of gravy you want to make. If you do not have enough fat, or you are not using pan drippings, add butter. Place fat in a saucepan along with an equal amount of flour. Whisk together, making a roux, cooking until light caramel color, about five to eight minutes.
While continuing to whisk the mixture, slowly add the cups of liquid or broth, using the Golden Formula. Allow the gravy to simmer, stirring constantly, until it has thickened, about 10 more minutes.
Adjustments to the gravy are easy make: If the gravy is too thin, add additional flour, mixed with a small amount of melted butter and whisk into the boiling gravy. Some people prefer a thicker gravy and so adjust the ratios of the Golden Formula by doubling the fat and flour but not the broth. If the gravy is too thick, add more liquid.
Alternative types of gravy can be made by changing the liquid used. A turkey broth gives a light, creamy gravy while beef broth gives a darker, richer flavor. Vegetable broth allows for a vegan gravy. Change the flavor of your gravy by substituting wine for part of the liquid. For a creamy mushroom gravy, use milk in place of the broth and add sautéed mushrooms.
Creamy country gravy used for country fried steaks or biscuits and gravy is achieved by using the fat remaining in the pan after frying sausage, adding butter as needed, and using whole milk and/or Half & Half for the liquid, along with a heavy dose of pepper.
Flavor changes can also be made to the standard gravy by adding onion, a variety of fresh or dried herbs, red pepper flakes, cooked and chopped giblets, Worcestershire sauce, or Kitchen Bouquet. Making your own broth can also enhance the flavor of your gravy.
And did you know that you can make gravy ahead of time? No need for the last minute stress of making the Thanksgiving Gravy while everyone is standing around waiting to eat. A day or two before Thanksgiving, I like to roast a couple of extra turkey legs, (you can always serve more of those) along with carrots, celery, and onion.
I use the pan drippings, supplementing as I’ve mentioned above as necessary, and then store the completed gravy in the fridge. On Thanksgiving morning, I let the gravy slowly heat up in a slow-cooker or saucepan, being careful not to burn it. “Instant” delicious, homemade gravy!