Head Start Gravy
When you have a crowd coming, you may want to get a head start on the gravy before the troops arrive. Or, you’ve made a brined turkey, and don’t trust that the salty juices will make good gravy. Here’s my strategy: A couple of days ahead, makes a turkey gravy base with butter instead of turkey fat. On Thanksgiving, color and enrich the base by stirring it into the degreased drippings from the roasted bird. Voila! It’s not exactly “instant” gravy, but pretty close.
Follow the proportions for Pan Gravy 101 (1 1/2 tablespoons each of fat and flour for each 1 cup of stock combined with the degreased pan drippings), substituting unsalted butter for the skimmed turkey fat. Melt the butter in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour and let bubble until very lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk in the stock and bring to a simmer. Reduce the heat to medium-low and cook until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. The gravy base will be pale and thin-bodied. Cool the gravy base completely, cover, and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Don’t worry about a skin forming, as it will melt away when the gravy is reheated.
After the Thanksgiving turkey has roasted, pour out the drippings into a gravy separator or glass bowl and let stand for 5 minutes. Pour or skim off and discard the turkey fat that rises to the surface. Pour the degreased brown drippings back into the pan and place over two burners on medium heat. Whisk in the gravy base and bring to a boil, stirring up the browned bits in the pan, which will color the gravy base. Cook, stirring often, until the gravy reduces and thickens, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (If you have too much gravy base to fit into the pan, whisk in 1 quart of base, and pour this mixture back into the remaining gravy base. Transfer to a large pot and reheat over medium heat, stirring often.) Skim, if needed, and serve hot.