Spare the angst classic turkey gravy

November  4, 2010
Author Notes

My phone is like a Thanksgiving hotline on turkey day, and the most stressful part of the meal for a lot of people is the gravy. I finally decided to write it all down. How much do you need? How to cut down on the fat but keep the flavor? I use a trick from my mom--an old, beat-up gravy shaker. It was lost at one point and I found a replacement, but you don't really need that uni-tasking gizmo. Just mix the flour (hold the cornstarch) with some water and strain out the lumps, or use Wondra. - Sally —Sally

Test Kitchen Notes

If you’ve never made gravy, or you’re worried that your gravy won’t turn out, this would be a good recipe for you. And if you’ve made gravy for years, as I have, this would still be a good recipe for you. The directions are written well, to guide you to make a truly classic and elegant gravy with ease. I usually add the gizzards, hearts, and livers to the stock, which make it taste stronger, and I found this gravy to be lovely without them. It has a light, clean flavor, and should compliment your turkey and sides nicely. - SallyCan —The Editors

  • Serves 8 to 12
  • 1 turkey neck and wing tips
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 1 carrot, thickly sliced
  • 1 stalk celery, thickly sliced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Salt and pepper
  • 4 to 5 tablespoons flour
  • Low salt chicken broth, as needed
In This Recipe
  1. As soon as the turkey goes in the oven, put the turkey neck and the wing tips (if you have cut them off the turkey) in a large saucepan with the onion, carrot, celery and bay leaf. Add a pinch of salt and a few grindings of black pepper. Cover with about an inch of water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Decrease the heat so that the stock simmers gently while the turkey roasts, for at least one hour. Just be sure the liquid doesn’t boil away (add more if necessary). Strain the stock.
  2. When the turkey is done, remove it from the roasting pan and set it on a platter to rest for a while before carving (at least 30 minutes.) Pour all the drippings--the juices and fat-- from the roasting pan into a large (4 cup) Pyrex measuring cup or glass bowl. Let it rest for about 5 minutes to allow the fat to separate and rise to the top. Skim off and discard the fat.
  3. Pour about 1 cup of the turkey stock you made in step one into the roasting pan and stir with a whisk to release all the brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the turkey drippings (now de-fatted) to the pan and stir some more. Strain all of this back into the measuring cup to see how much you have and to rid the stock of any unwanted crusty bits from the bottom of the pan. Add enough turkey stock to the measuring cup to make four cups. If you don’t have enough stock, add chicken broth. Pour it into a saucepan.
  4. Mix the flour with 1/3 cup cold water until smooth, using a gravy shaker, or whisking it in a bowl to smooth out the lumps. Strain if you can’t get the lumps out. Whisk this slurry into the stock and bring it to a boil. Simmer for at least 5 minutes to rid the gravy of the raw flour taste. The amount of flour depends on your taste. My view on this is that it should be fairly thin; the flour should just add a little body to the stock without making it goopy. If you want thicker gravy, repeat the flour and water exercise, and add it cautiously and in increments to the gravy. It will thicken as it cooks, so give it a little time (5 to 6 minutes) before you jump in with more flour. Season with salt and pepper.
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I am a home cook,author of a couple of cookbooks and mother. I write for the Boston Globe from time to time. My "kid" just left for college and comes home for cooking lessons. Too bad he was completely uninterested in the process (except when he was little and gingerbread was involved) until now. Without Mom to cook, he's very, very hungry. But it's fun to keep bonding over the stove. I blog about food and life at