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Good gravy - it's much easier to make than you think

Photo Credit: SUBMITTED PHOTOS - Dont be nervous about making the gravy for Thanksgiving dinner. With simple tips from Americas Test Kitchen you can be successful every time.

OK, you’ve got your turkey ordered and a recipe for roasting it selected. You know who is bringing salad, the Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, mashed potatoes, stuffing and pie. The last detail with which to contend: the gravy.

No other dish causes more anxiety than gravy. Because we don’t eat it every day, like our predecessors may have, we don’t have that natural instinct for making it. What do we add and when? Do we thicken the gravy with flour or corn starch?

Knowing you’d be nervous about making gravy I gathered tips from Christopher Kimball at America’s Test Kitchen on how to make perfect turkey gravy.

First, make sure you have the right equipment. You will need:

  • A balloon whisk. The AKT staff prefer using a skinny balloon whisk between 10 and 12 inches long. This tool can get into pan corners to get every drop of roux.

  • A roasting pan. AKT staff prefer a roasting pan with a heavy bottom, a must for deglazing, which is done over stovetop burners. If your roasting pan is a disposable roasting pan, you won’t want to put that on the stovetop to deglaze. Just strain the pan drippings into a saucepan to make the gravy.

    Next, consider your ingredients:

  • Giblets. Each turkey comes with a little paper bag tucked in the body cavity, filled with body parts: the neck, heart, gizzard and liver. You can discard the liver, but the rest will be used to make stock for your gravy.

    n Low-sodium stock (either homemade or store bought). Making gravy takes a lot of simmering, which concentrates flavor, so you will want to use low-sodium stock cut with water. ATK says a 2:1 ration of broth to water is ideal.

  • Thickeners. Cornstarch will clump when added to a hot liquid, and once it does, all the whisking in the world won’t smooth things out. ATK recommends thickening gravy with a roux made of flour and butter. As long as you add liquid to the roux in small amounts lumps won’t form.

    Ready to give it a try? Here is ATK’s recipe and method for producing perfect gravy every time:

    Best Turkey Gravy

    Makes about 6 cups, enough to accompany a 12- to 14-pound turkey, with leftovers.

    Ingredients:

    1 tablespoon vegetable oil

    Reserved turkey giblets and neck

    1 onion, peeled and chopped

    4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

    2 cups water

    2 sprigs fresh thyme

    8 parsley stems

    3 tablespoons unsalted butter

    1/4 cup all-purpose flour

    1 cup dry white wine

    Table salt and ground black pepper

    Step one: Make the broth. Good gravy starts with turkey stock, but few home cooks have the time to make it homemade. AKT suggests that with turkey trimmings and an onion, you can doctor up store-bought chicken broth into a flavorful base for gravy.

    Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Brown turkey giblets and neck for 5 minutes. Cook onion for 3 minutes. Cover and cook over low heat for 20 minutes. Add chicken stock and water, scrape pan bottom and bring to boil. Add herbs and simmer, skimming foam from surface for 30 minutes. Pour stock through fine-mesh strainer. Reserve and dice heart and gizzard. Refrigerate broth and diced giblets until ready to use.

    Step two: Make the roux and thicken the broth. Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk in flour. Cook, stirring constantly, until nutty brown and fragrant, 10 to 15 minutes. Bring reserved turkey broth to simmer. Gradually add hot broth to roux. Vigorous and constant whisking at this point is key to avoiding lumps. Reserve 1 cup of broth for deglazing roasting pan. Simmer gravy, stirring occasionally and skimming scums from surface with spoon, until thickened, about 30 minutes. Set aside, covered, until turkey is done.

    Step three: Deglaze the pan and add the drippings to the gravy. Pour drippings from roasting pan through fine mesh strainer set over measuring cup. Let liquid settle until fat rises to top. Tilt measuring cup and use wide, shallow soup spoon to skim fat off the surface. Reserve defatted drippings. Return gravy to saucepan to simmer. Place roasting pan over two burners at medium-high heat. Add wine and reserve 1 cup broth and scrape up browned bits in pan. Boil until liquid reduces by half, 5 minutes. Strain roasting pan liquid into gravy, pressing on solids to extract all liquid. Add defatted drippings to taste. Stir in giblets and serve.

    Recipe courtesy of Christopher Kimball’s Favorite Thanksgiving Recipes.

    No matter what recipe you use to roast your turkey, following these directions should produce perfect gravy every time. If by some fluke it doesn’t work, remember this is just one dinner out of 365. You can try again next year.

    Bon Appetit! Eat something wonderful!

    Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281 ext. 100 or by email at brandall@lakeoswegoreview.com. Follow her on Twitter @barbrandallfood.

    Chapter 24 has opened a new tasting room in Dundee to showcase its fine pinot noirs.

    Go east, go west for great wines on Thanksgiving weekend

    We have options galore for sampling great wines over the Thanksgiving weekend. Many wineries use Thanksgiving weekend to release new wines, giving visitors a first opportunity to taste and buy limited production releases. Many use the holiday weekend to offer special tastings of library wines from older vintages, barrel tastings of yet-to-be bottled wines or even super-early samples of the just completed harvest.

    Will you go east to the Columbia Gorge wineries, or west to Willamette, Yamhill and western Washington County wineries? You can't lose by going in either direction.

    Columbia Gorge winegrowers have plenty to be thankful for: They are celebrating the 10th year of the founding of the Columbia Gorge AVA, the release of the 2012 vintage, having a stunning 2013 vintage in barrel and end of the 2014 harvest. In the spirit of Thanksgiving they want to give back to those less fortunate.

    Some wineries will waive tasting fees with a contribution of items such as blankets, clothing or nonperishable foods for charities, and others are donating proceeds from the weekend to their favorite charity.

    Winery activities for Gorge Wine Gives Back can be found online at columbiagorgewine.com/thanksgiving.html.

    If you are going toward Dundee on Thanksgiving weekend, don’t miss the festivities at Chapter 24 Vineyard’s new tasting room. Meet host Jessie Gordon and winemaker Max Marriott from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The new tasting room is located at 531 N. Highway 99W in Dundee. Call 503-487-6341 for information.

    BR

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