When we started developing our test kitchen’s best turkey gravy, we focused on three key components: the giblets, drippings, and deglazing liquid from the roasting pan. Let’s delve into each.
By “giblets,” we mean the turkey neck, heart, gizzard, and liver. In this recipe, we decided to skip the liver because its taste can verge on bitter and metallic in a stock or gravy. The rest of the giblets, however, are full of savory turkey flavor. We’re going to sear the giblets, and then use these to make stock.
Stock may be the most important component of gravy. Of course, you could skip the homemade giblet stock entirely and replace it with store-bought stock (either turkey, chicken, or even vegetable). But, to us, the resulting gravy misses that tiny bit of magic. It would taste good, but today we’re going after the best.
Drippings are the juices that caramelize in the roasting pan as the turkey cooks. Using these in the gravy is another reason why this is our ultimate turkey gravy. Adding a bed of sliced onions, carrots, celery, and herbs at the bottom of the roasting pan ensures your drippings won’t burn, and adds more flavor to the gravy.
The last essential component of our gravy is deglazing When your turkey has finished roasting, the bottom of your roasting pan will be filled with caramelized turkey drippings. Add a splash of stock to the roasting pan and use a wooden spoon to unstick these browned bits. This captures tons of caramelized flavor and ensures a deeply flavorful gravy.
But before you get started, make sure that you own a fat separator. This simple tool will help you distill the drippings into pure turkey flavor, while getting rid of excess fat. If you don’t own a fat separator, you can always use a ladle, but it’ll be a slower process.
Some folks say that the drippings from a brined turkey can make your gravy too salty. But in this recipe, we don’t add any salt until the very end of the cooking process, which means that this gravy should work even for brined birds. When your gravy is thick and ready, taste it. For a brined bird, you may not need to add any extra salt. If you’ve roasted a non-brined turkey, you can then season your gravy to taste.
Lastly, when it comes to gravy, many people want a smooth, silky texture, and dark, rich color. To achieve a silky texture with no lumps, simply add your liquids slowly, while whisking constantly. And the key to that deep rich color is cooking your roux until it turns a nutty dark brown color.
Now, go forth and make gravy!