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Author Notes: I've eaten (and made) pasty-flavored and -colored gravy many, many times. I really, really like this gravy not only because it's full of deep-roasted Thanksgiving flavor--it contains nothing exotic to detract from tradition--but also because it’s not the same color as the mashed potatoes. Too, it’s so easy to make that when I left instructions, my sons were able to make it on those holidays I had to work. It's an amalgam of techniques I learned over a 15-year period from: Jeff (The Frugal Gourmet) Smith (use an entire yellow onion, including the peel, not just for flavor but to add rich color); Julia Child (roast bones and giblets to avoid insipid flavor and color); my mom's next-door-neighbor Dori Harris (cut off the top and bottom of the celery stalk to use in the stock, and use the pretty middle ribs for the stuffing); and Aunt Lupe (put a whole stick of butter in the roasting pan with the turkey so that you have plenty of drippings to make enough gravy for at least two meals of leftovers). When shopping, look for onions with thick layers of copper-colored skin. The stock is deliberately undersalted to make it easier to control the salt in the gravy. —betteirene
Makes 2 quart
Roast Chicken Stock
- 2 whole chickens
- Kosher salt
- Coarse ground black pepper
- 1 small yellow onion
- 2 ribs celery
- 2 carrots
- Up to a month before Thanksgiving: Remove giblets and neck from chicken and refrigerate. Rinse chicken and place in a roasting pan with a two-quart or more capacity. Sprinkle the chicken with 2 teaspoons of salt and a half teaspoon of pepper. Roast or bake as desired. Remove the meat from the breasts, legs and thighs and use in salads, sandwiches or entrees.
- Break the carcasses into pieces at the joints and place the pieces back in the roasting pan with the giblets and neck. Trim the ends from the onion, celery and carrot. Cut each vegetable into fourths, strew the pieces over the carcass, sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and roast at 400 degrees for at least an hour, until you see lots of dark golden-amber coloring and can smell the umami.
- Remove pan from the oven and set it on the stove. Carefully pour two quarts (eight cups) of simmering water into the roasting pan, sprinkle with two teaspoons of salt and a quarter-teaspoon of pepper and give everything a gentle stir. Allow to rest until cool enough to handle. Strain the stock through a sieve lined with cheesecloth into a storage container. Freeze until needed. (If you need additional stock to moisten a stuffing or dressing, double the recipe but freeze in separate containers.)
- Up to 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
- Turkey giblets, neck and "Pope's nose"
- Kosher salt
- Coarse ground pepper
- 1 large yellow onion
- 1 stalk celery, well rinsed
- 2 whole carrots
- 2 quarts chicken stock, thawed if frozen
- Pan drippings
- All-purpose flour
- With the butter, grease the bottom and sides of a 4-qt. Dutch oven or other oven-safe vessel. Use a tablespoon if you're roasting the turkey indoors and will have pan drippings; use the whole stick if you will be cooking your turkey in a way that drippings will not be collected. Add the turkey parts and sprinkle with a teaspoon of salt and a quarter-teaspoon of pepper. Trim the ends from the onion (do not peel it), cut it into eighths and put it in the pot. Trim two inches from the bottom and three inches from the top of the stalk of celery; put the trimmings, leaves and all, in the pot. Trim the ends from the carrots (do not peel), cut them into 1" pieces and place them in the pot. Put the pot into the oven set at 400 degrees and roast until most of the contents are caramelized, at least one-and-a-half hours (longer if the oven is being shared with something cooking at a lower temperature), stirring the contents once or twice.
- Remove the pot from the oven and place it on the stovetop. If any liquid remains in the bottom of the pot, cook it uncovered over low heat so that it doesn't sputter and pop on you. If only fat is in the bottom of the pot, allow it to cool down somewhat, then carefully pour or ladle the fat into a glass measuring cup. Pour the chicken stock over the roasted meat and vegetables and simmer for 1/2 hour.
- Make a slurry of 1/4 cup cornstarch and 3/4 cup water. Set aside.
- When your oven-roasted turkey is done, remove it from the pan to a carving board or cookie sheet to rest before slicing it. If there is a lot of liquid in the pan, cook it off on the stovetop so that all that's left in the roasting pan is lovely, gooey, sticky fond with clear turkey fat oozing over and through it. Add this fat to the fat in the measuring cup. If you have less that one cup of fat, add enough butter to bring it up to that level. Pour it back into the roasting pan. Stir in 3/4 cup flour and allow it to absorb the fat. Place the roasting pan over a low flame and let this roux cook for a full minute. Ladle in all the stock and half of the cornstarch slurry; turn the heat to medium and bring the gravy to a gentle boil, stirring constantly and scraping up the fond, for about three minutes. Adjust the consistency of the gravy by adding more of the cornstarch slurry if it's too thin or water if it's too thick, and keep in mind that the gravy will thicken as it cools. Taste; add salt a quarter-teaspoon at a time if needed, and pepper.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Gravy