My secret to flavorful gravy is starting with a base of bacon. Put a few slices in a pan and let it render low and slow until the bacon is crispy, the fat has all melted out, and those toasty, tasty clumps start to gather at the bottom of the pan. (Bonus: You’ve got yourself some crispy bacon for tomorrow’s sandwich...or right now's snack.) Briny tamari gives this gravy that special oomph of flavor that turkey drippings would normally add. Not to mention, a few splashes make your gravy the perfect shade of brown. Anytime I'm making a dish ahead of time, I add in some fresh herbs just before serving to awaken the flavor and give it that "I just made this" look.
Place the strips of bacon into a cold cast-iron skillet. Turn the heat to medium and let the bacon cook low and slow to render. When the bacon begins to sizzle and brown on the edges, give it a flip and let it cook until crisp on the other side. Once the bacon is crisp and the fat has rendered out, remove the bacon from the pan. You should be left with a few tablespoons of bacon fat and some crispy brown bacon bits in the bottom of the pan.
Keeping the pan at a medium heat, add in the butter to the bacon fat. Once the butter has melted, add the garlic and all of the whole herbs. Cook for about 10 minutes, stirring often, to flavor the fat with the aromatics. Once the mixture becomes super fragrant and just before the garlic begins to brown, remove the herbs and garlic while leaving the aromatic fat in the pan. It’s ok if some herbs leaves are left behind.
Add the onion and cook for another 5 minutes until super soft. Turn up the heat and add the flour to make a roux, and cook for a few minutes, stirring often. When the flour is just beginning to brown, using a whisk, slowly add the turkey stock into the pan. Stir in the tamari, salt, and pepper. Lower the heat and bring the gravy to a low simmer and cook until desired thickness. If you’d like richer gravy, add in the heavy cream. If you’d like a smooth gravy (no onion pieces), you can blend the gravy in a blender or with an immersion blender.
When you’re ready to serve, stir in some freshly chopped chives, parsley or a mixture of the two.
Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, Food Network Kitchen and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.