It’s that time of year when most people gather with family and friends for a feast. The feast my family enjoyed every year, for both Thanksgiving and Christmas, was one centered around a turkey, mashed potatoes, cornbread stuffing, green beans and home made gravy. I was able to witness my mom make that gravy many many times, and have made it for my own family. I would like to share it with you here. And, yes; that is my mom and my siblings and her mom and dad and her siblings gathered around the table.
It is nothing super special or fancy nor hard to make (necessarily). What is special about it is the memory of my oldest brother always being the one to taste it, and another of the five kids being the one to strain the milk mixture. It is also special because her mom taught her how to make this gravy. Don’t be scared; we no longer need to strain anything since flour is more refined these days. Keep in mind, this is not all science; some art is involved!
What you will need: turkey, turkey neck and giblets, water, milk, flour, salt and pepper.
As you cook your turkey, you will need to create the stock for the gravy:
- In a medium saucepan, place turkey neck and all giblets and add enough water to adequately cover all the pieces; saucepan should be about three-quarters of the way full or a little more. Add a teaspoon of salt and pepper at this point. You can add more later. Bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer. Cover. I usually simmer for about 3-4 hours. If you think you will need more gravy, use a larger saucepan.
- Some water will usually boil off, leaving the pan about half full. Turn off the heat from under pan. Remove neck and giblets and set aside. Let the pieces cool. Once cooled, you can easily remove meat from neck. I like to put these thin bits of turkey in the gravy. If desired, you can also cut up the cooked giblets and place in the gravy, too. Your choice, but I highly recommend at least the neck meat.
- As the turkey is setting after you remove from oven, you can make the gravy. It’s not that tough, but may take some trial and error. Remember, you can always make the gravy thinner, but it can be harder to make thicker.
- You will be bringing the stock to a boil and then adding the milk/flour mixture, stirring constantly, to make the gravy. Let’s make the milk/flour mixture first.
- In a medium plastic bowl with seal, you should place milk approximately equal to the amount of water remaining in the saucepan. Okay to be less. Add about 4 heaping spoonfuls (I simply use a regular tablespoon and really heap it) of flour to the milk. Seal the plastic bowl tightly, and shake vigorously to mix the flour with the milk. Should be smooth with as few lumps as possible. If you are using a larger saucepan to make the gravy, add a couple more spoons of flour to the mixture.
- You can add more salt and pepper to the stock if you like at this point. I usually do. I like it to be a little peppery. I think it tastes better with more salt and pepper. I also like to add some of the turkey drippings from the pan before I add the milk/flour mixture. If you want giblets, add the giblets at this point.
- To the boiling turkey stock with turkey meat and giblets, slowly add the milk/flour mixture, stirring constantly. It will thicken as you boil and stir. You can add more milk and/or water or more turkey drippings if it gets too thick. But most likely it won’t.
- You don’t have to add all the milk mixture if you like a thin gravy. You can add more milk or water if you like. If you like it thick, add another spoonful of flour to the milk mixture BEFORE you shake it up and before you add to turkey broth.
- Once the gravy is thickened, you can remove from heat and let sit while you carve the turkey and finish other prep. It may thicken a little more when standing. Before pouring gravy into serving bowl or boat, stir it up, taste it, etc. to make sure it is perfect.
I hope all your family gatherings and feasts are loving and memorable ones. My mom is the beautiful lady all the way to the right.