Make-ahead Turkey Gravy

Soon after we moved to the farm, we changed to hosting an open house, buffet style Thanksgiving. We love entertaining, and is there a better holiday for cooking in bulk than turkey day? That said, I was suddenly struggling with the timing of everything, and began trying to figure out what I could make ahead of time. Gravy was one of the first things to get done before the big meal – and with this method, I had stock to use on Thanksgiving itself. I’ve made gravy this way ever since!

For the stock:

  • 2 large turkey wings (about 4 pounds), or 4 pounds bone-in turkey thighs
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • 3 medium carrots, scrubbed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 ribs celery, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 8 cups chicken or turkey broth, divided
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf

For the gravy:

  • 1/2 cup turkey fat, reserved from roasting the turkey wings or thighs
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups turkey stock (above), plus more if needed
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 450°F. In a roasting pan, combine the turkey, onions, carrots, celery, and garlic. Sprinkle the oil, and toss with your hands to coat the turkey and vegetables.
Roast the turkey and vegetables, tossing and flipping occasionally, for up to 1 1/2 hours, or until the meat and vegetables are well browned.

Transfer the turkey, onions, carrots, celery and garlic to a large pot. Pour 2 cups of the chicken or turkey broth into the bottom of the roasting pan and set the pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and stir with a flat wooden spoon to scrape up and release the brown bits.

With tongs, remove the turkey wings and discard the skin and bones. (If the meat is not too dry, you can refrigerate it and use it in soup later.) Set a large strainer over a large container, and strain the stock into it. When the stock settles, skim off the fat with a ladle, transfer it to a bowl, and reserve it for making the gravy. Alternatively, if time permits, refrigerate the stock overnight. The fat solidifies and is easier to remove.

Reheat the stock if you have refrigerated it overnight. Spoon 1/2 cup of the reserved turkey fat into a large saucepan and set the pan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the flour, and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes to cook the flour. Slowly add 4 cups of stock while whisking the roux. Simmer, whisking often, until thickened, another 2 to 5 minutes. Add additional stock, if you like, to bring the gravy to the consistency you prefer. Add the salt and pepper and taste. Add more salt and pepper to your liking.

Let the gravy cool for about 30 minutes and transfer it to a storage container. Refrigerate for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 4 months. Reheat in a saucepan when ready to use. Frozen gravy made without milk or cream should not separate upon reheating.

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