I'm having 17 people for Thanksgiving and don't dare to make gravy right before dinner (I'm spatchcocking the turkey). I've never made gravy before...
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This gravy isn't completely made ahead, but the roux and the stock are, so it comes together in 5 minutes with whatever turkey drippings you have. http://www.bonappetit.com...
You could also make the tasty drippings ahead by roasting the reserved backbone from spatchcocking, and/or some spare turkey wings or other parts.
Go to the market/butcher and purchase a 4 to 6 pounds of turkey necks, back, legs, and wings. Roast them in a roasting pan in a hot oven along with quartered onions, chopped carrots, and 2 or 3 sticks of celery cut in hunks (ratio of 3/2/1 of onions to carrots to celery). When brown turn them into a stock pot along with 2 to 3 bay leaves and 6 to 8 peppercorns and cover with cold water and bring to a simmer and simmer for 3 to 4 hours. Save the fat left in the pan from roasting the turkey parts and don't wash the pan but save for the gravy making. Strain the turkey stock you have made. On a low to burner, heat heat up the pan containing the fat from roasting the turkey parts, add 3 to 4 tablespoons of flour and mash or whisk together to make a roux (like making white sauce or bechemel sauce). Cook the roux over a low burner for 5 to 10 min without burning. Add the strained turkey stock until you get the desired consistency and let simmer. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Store the gravy until needed keeping the remainder of the turkey stock not used. Before serving, heat the now very thick gravy in a pan over a low burner and when hot add turkey stock to thin to desired consistency. Season again to taste and serve.
Soupcon's reply is what I've been working on for the last couple of hours! Makes turkey day so much easier. The only differences: I don't bother w/ the peppercorns-I add fresh pepper at the end, I use more celery, and some dry white wine.