Make-Ahead Gravy

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  • Level: Easy
  • Total: 5 hr 30 min (includes making of turkey stock)
  • Active: 40 min
  • Yield: 3 1/2 to 4 cups of gravy and about 8 cups of homemade turkey stock
Cooking Thanksgiving dinner doesn’t have to be hectic and stressful. One way I like to make my day easier is to make my gravy ahead. Make our simple homemade turkey stock, then pan roast turkey bones and vegetables to develop a concentrated turkey flavor base. Do not be intimidated by making your own stock. It’s a simple step that can make all the difference to elevate and enrich the flavors of your gravy and Thanksgiving dinner. Chopped turkey bones are very gently simmered with aromatic vegetables on the stovetop for hours, resulting in a delicious, rich turkey stock. Turkey bones are cheap and easy to come by around the holidays, but chicken bones or wings are an acceptable substitute. Add your stock and herbs, simmer, thicken, strain and you have gravy! A great make ahead step, and one less thing to worry about when it’s time to get dinner on the table.


Homemade Turkey Stock:


  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the turkey wings and cook, undisturbed, until browned, about 5 minutes. Stir, then continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until browned all over, about 5 more minutes. Add the celery, onion and carrot and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned and tender, about 5 minutes. Add 1 cup water, the thyme and bay leaves; bring to a simmer and cook, stirring and scraping up any browned bits, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the turkey stock and bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Add the dried mushrooms, if using, and simmer until reduced by one-third, about 30 minutes. 
  3. Mix the butter and flour in a small bowl to make a paste. Stir into the simmering gravy and cook, stirring occasionally, until thickened slightly, 15 to 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into a large container. Let cool, then cover and refrigerate up to 5 days. Reheat over low heat.

Homemade Turkey Stock:

  1. Combine the turkey wings, carrots, celery, onion and garlic in a large pot. Add 2 gallons cold water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low or medium low to maintain a gentle simmer.
  2. Simmer the stock about 4 hours, occasionally skimming any scum that rises to the surface with a spoon. Strain into another pot, discarding the bones and vegetables. Let the stock cool completely. (For faster cooling, set the pot of stock in a large bowl; add enough ice water to the bowl to come about halfway up the sides of the pot and let cool, stirring the stock occasionally.) Transfer the stock to an airtight container and refrigerate up to 5 days.

Cook’s Note

Gravy mistakes happen! Here’s how to fix them. Too thick: Stir in a little stock to thin out the gravy. Remember that gravy thickens as it cools but it will loosen when you reheat it. Too thin: Mix 1 tablespoon each softened butter and flour to form a paste, then stir into the gravy and simmer for a few minutes to thicken. Too salty: Add unsalted broth, stock or even water to dilute the saltiness. Thicken the gravy again, if necessary (see above). Too greasy: Let the gravy cool, then skim off any fat that rises to the top. Reheat and whisk in any remaining fat. Too lumpy: Strain the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve.