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Recipes and Stories

27 November 2014: Mastering Thanksgiving XII—The Gravy

Madeira Pan Gravy

It isn’t my job to tell you what kind of gravy to serve with your turkey. Whether or not you add wine to it, and whether you include the giblets and add chopped boiled eggs is up to you. My job is to show you how to make gravy that’s silky-smooth and delicious. You will need a roasting pan with a heavy enough bottom to withstand direct heat, a degreasing pitcher (fat separator), and a flat whisk.

What they accomplish: the pan will be exposed to direct heat in the deglazing so that you can remove all the flavorful cooking residue (called “fond” which means foundation in French). It must be heavy so it won't warp. The degreaser quickly and effortlessly separates that abundant fat that turkeys produce from the flavorful drippings. A flat whisk is ideal for a roux in any pan, but especially a shallow on. It keeps it from splattering and makes it easier to keep the roux stirred up from the bottom of the pan until the heat suspends it in the liquid and allows it to do its job.

There are two types of gravy included here. The first is pretty much the kind that most of us make routinely, with a light flour liaison dissolved in fat to bind and thicken it. The second is the really old fashioned kind, that’s bound by the natural thickening of reduction and by a satiny butter liaison. If your family goes through a lot of gravy, use the first recipe; it yields more volume. If they’re a little more restrained and you’re feeling elegant, try the second one.

Madeira Pan Gravy with Roux
Makes about 4 cups

The pan juices from Roast Turkey, left in the roasting pan
1 cup Madeira (optional)
2 cups Turkey Broth (3 cups if not using wine)
3 tablespoons instant blending flour (such as Wondra)
Cooked giblets from the turkey, chopped (optional)
1-2 hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped (optional)
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Salt and whole black pepper in a mill

1. Pour off but reserve the pan juices into degreasing pitcher. Let them settle. Put the roasting pan over direct, medium high heat.

2. Add the wine or 1 cup broth and bring to boil, stirring and scraping to loosen the “fond” (cooking residue). Let it boil 1 minute and pour it off into a measuring cup or if there’s room into the degreasing pitcher.

3. Spoon 3 tablespoons of fat from top of the turkey drippings into a roasting pan. Whisk in the instant blending flour with a flat whisk. Cook, whisking constantly, until bubbly and beginning to toast. Slowly whisk in the deglazing liquid, then add the pan drippings, whisking constantly and stopping when fat reaches pitcher’s spout. Whisk until it’s beginning to thicken, then whisk in broth.

4. Bring to simmer, whisking constantly, and let simmer until thickened, stirring occasionally, until it’s thick enough to suit, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in the optional giblets and egg and simmer until hot through. Turn off the heat and swirl or whisk in butter until incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings and serve.

Old Fashioned Madeira Pan Gravy without Roux

Here the proteins in the gravy and the finishing butter liaison form a natural thickening without the sometimes pasty quality that flour can impart. You’ll need the same equipment as for the other gravy. The one disadvantage here is that the butter liaison won’t hold, so you have to make it at the last minute and serve it immediately.

Makes about 2 cups, serving 8

The pan juices from Roast Turkey, left in the roasting pan
1 cup Madeira, optional
2 cups homemade Turkey Broth (3 cups if omitting Madeira)
3-6 tablespoons unsalted butter (depending on how rich you like it.

1. Pour off but reserve the pan juices into a degreasing pitcher and let the fat separate to the top. Put the roasting pan over direct, medium high heat.

2. Add the wine or 1 cup of the broth and bring it to a boil, stirring and scraping to loosen the fond or cooking residue. Let it boil 1 minute and add the remaining broth. Bring to boil and cook until the liquid is reduced by half, about 5 to 8 minutes.

3. Reduce the heat to medium and slowly whisk in the reserved pan juices with a flat whisk. Bring to simmer and simmer gently until it has lightly thickened, about 2 to 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and with a flat whisk gradually whisk in the butter until incorporated. Taste and adjust seasonings. Immediately pour into a warm gravy boat and serve.

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