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Saturday, 8 October 2016

Thanksgiving Gravy

It's Canadian Thanksgiving soon.  You will be preparing gravy.  This is my version on how to make FANTASTIC Turkey Gravy.


3 quarts [2.8 L] water
1 cup [56 ml] apple juice
2 onions, skin on, ends removed, cut into quarters
2 medium carrots, peeled and cut into 2 inch lengths
1 stalk of celery, leaves and all, cut into 2 inch lengths
1 tablespoon [15 ml] dried sage leaves, crumbled 
1 tablespoon [15 ml] dried thyme leaves
2 whole dried bay leaves


If you wish, you can do this a day in advance.  I do this in the morning, well before anyone else is up for the day.

Whatever you do, don't skip the gravy. I know this whole approach may sound a little goofy, but trust me: This nectar is a show stopper. I no longer measure the ingredients.  But that's only because I have done this so many times.

This gravy is not the thick and pasty stuff made with flour that sits on top of the meat and forms pudding skin. This gravy is a thin, flavorful broth that penetrates the meat, making it incredibly moist and tasty. And if Grandma insists on the thick glop, there is more than enough of my gravy to mix with flour to make her happy.

There is almost always leftover gravy that you can freeze. It makes a killer soup base or stock for cooking rice, or whenever a recipe calls for stock. I use it to make the gravy for turkey pot pies with the leftovers.

1) After the bird has thawed, open the bag it came in and pour the juices into the pan in which it was sitting. Even if they bird was salted, save those the juices. They will not be too salty.

2) If there is a plastic pop-up thermometer, remove it and discard it. If you rely on it you will be eating balsa wood. If there is a gizmo holding the tops of the drumsticks together, remove it. By holding the thighs and drums tight to the body, it prevents them from cooking properly and keeps the skin in the bird's crotch from darkening and crisping. Yes, I know the books tell you to truss the drumsticks. They're wrong.

3) Pull the stuff out the cavities. Check both front and rear openings. Typically you'll find the neck and a bag of "giblets" in there. Put the neck in the pan. The bag usually contains the heart (looks like a heart), the gizzard (two marbles connected in the middle), and the liver (it is the floppy, shiny thing). Put everything except the liver in the gravy pan. The liver will not be used for the gravy. Toss it in a pan with some oil, cook it, and feed it to the dog.

4) Remove "the part that goes over the fence last", a.k.a. "the Pope's nose", and trim excess skin and fat from around both cavities, front and rear, and put them in the pan along with the neck and the juices. Then whack off the wing tips at the first joint and toss them in the pool. There's a lot of flavor in them. Don't worry about the fat, you can skim it later.

5) Did you save your bones from the last turkey that you made?  I did.  They were in a freezer bag in the deep freeze.  Add them to the pot.

6) Boil the ingredients for about an hour.  You now have your Turkey Broth.  Strain the broth into a container.

7) Once cooled, refrigerate. It is so much easier to skim the fat once it has chilled and hardened in the fridge.

Fast forward.  You have cooked your turkey and the house smells wonderful.

Carefully remove the turkey from your roasting pan and let it rest.

With a basting bulb, or large spoon, try to remove most of the fat.  Don't obsess, you will never get all the fat.  Fat is flavour, so don't worry if you don't get it all.  Add the turkey broth from yesterday and heat it up.

Now taste it. It should be rich and flavorful. If you find it too weak (unlikely) bring it to a boil and cook it down a bit. Taste again and add salt only at the last minute. If you add salt and then reduce it, it will be too salty.

Now, you can server this gravy: as is, or...

You will add your flour and water mixture and thicken it up.  I have a friend that prefers corn starch over flour.  Who am I to say which is best.

Comments and suggestions are ALWAYS welcome.