Day two of Vacation was not quite as action packed as day one was. I made gravy for Thursday. Aunt Pat’s Make Ahead Turkey Gravy.
Since we moved to Minnesota in 1995 we’ve only had our immediate family, plus some friends over for Thanksgiving. This means that we’ve developed our own family traditions, which is cool, but it also means we’ve missed out on the big family get-togehters. This year, thoughts of family, on what is hands down my favorite holiday, are a little closer at hand than in previous years.
But I had an epiphany, if I use recipes from family members, then in a way, it’s kind of like having loved ones here for the holiday.
Mrs S’s has a wonderful Aunt, Aunt Pat who is one of those folks who on my short list of people who I would love to spend more time with but because of time and distance and a dozen other stupid reasons I don’t. Last year Aunt Pat.. who btw occasionally lurks on this very site (Yes YOU outed) sent Mrs S home from some shindig somewhere with some handy Thanksgiving recipes, one of which was Make Ahead Gravy.
Making gravy from turkey drippings 20 minutes before you sit down to eat is dicey at best. In my experience I’ve been able to serve up everything from a thin turkey flavored broth to full on brown turkey fat paste. It’s always a gamble. This recipe is fool proof.. but actually takes longer, and is a bit more complicated to make than actually roasting a turkey and messing with the drippings.
Once again, the fact that I could even make it deserves a shout out to the fine grocers at Byerlys, the only store in town that would even bother chopping the wings and thighs off a bird for me. Everywhere else there are no turkey parts and when you ask, they look at you like your insane.Butchers rule.
Aunt Pat’s recipe, which looks a bit like one I found on America’s Test Kitchen.. the concepts were the same, calls for 6 thighs or 9 wings. 9 wings implies a bird with three wings out there, and since the butchers were doing me a solid by cutting up what were supposed to be fresh birds for Thanksgiving I went with 4 wings and 4 thighs. The America’s Test Kitchen recipe calls for necks, giblets, feet and whatever other offal you can pull out of your bird, or as my father, who was also a butcher would say “lips and assholes”. That was his description of head cheese BTW. Which is a misnomer because I don’t think they use lips in headcheese at all. I don’t even like saying “headcheese”, sounds like any of a number of things that share one commonality; they’re all disgusting.
Put the turkey parts in with a couple of rough cut carrots, stalks of celery, onions and two heads of garlic (that’s 2 of each for those of you in Austin Lee), cut in half. Whole heads not just cloves, chopped in half and some house seasoning (my addition to the recipe) toss in olive oil. Put it into a largish roasting pan and pop it into a 450 oven, roasting until everything is nicely browned. This, in my experience takes at least 45 minutes and maybe more. You should toss the stuff around once in a while to make sure it browns evenly.
Once the base is browned nicely put it the whole mess; turkey parts, veggies, drippings, all of it into a large, and I mean large stock pot. Because.. you’re going to add 12 cups of chicken broth and 2 cups of dry white wine to it. I learned the hard way that we need a lot of space to do this right.
Bring the pot to a boil and let it simmer for about 2 hours. The broth should reduce by about 2-3 cups, should be brown and tasty. Now the fun part, pour the mixture through a grande strainer into a uh.. well into something else. You want to squeeze out all the liquid. Put the broth aside, I actually put it outside in Minnesota’s 30 degree weather to let it cool faster. In the mean time I deboned the wings and thighs and wound up with about 4 cups of shredded meat for turkey salad. Which BTW, since I didn’t ask the family I was chastised a bit when Is suggested that we start eating turkey leftovers three days early.
Once the broth is cooled and the fat rises to the top, scoop out the fat into a Dutch oven and heat it up. Wisk in, and do this kinda slowly, a cup of flour. I added a half stick of butter to improve consistency and flavor. You’ll wind up with a nice thick rue. Add the broth back into the mixture, wisk in the broth and bring to a boil.
Boil it about 30 minutes or until it thickens up. The gravy keeps in the fridge for three days or so, or you can freeze it up to 7 years. Or something like that.
And when you’re done… congratulate yourself on 5 hours of cooking. But the results are well worth it.
The other big hit from Aunt Pat.. Stuffing balls. I messed these up last year because I didn’t read the part about “make the day before and let rest”. This year I’m much better prepared. I actually read the directions. ALL OF THEM. The Stuffing balls BTW. biggest hit from the whole meal. The recipe is at the end of this article.
Since I’m all about reading this year, and following directions, which I practiced last night by building a nightstand from Ikea, never easy, means my herbed turkey will be better than ever because I’ll be better because I’ll air dry the bird in the re’fer for 24 hours. Makes the skin crispy.
More fun tomorrow as we explore the mental problems of those who spend the thanksgiving dinner looking for the “perfect” bite. We’ll chat.
Aunt Pat usually doubles the recipe and uses a 9X13 pan.
- 16 oz. Stuffing Mix
- 1/2 cup Butter
- 1 cup Onion, Chopped
- 1 cup Celery, Chopped
- 2 Can Creamed Corn
- 1 cup Water
- 2 teaspoons Poultry Seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon Pepper
- 6 Each Eggs, Beaten
- 1/4 cup Butter, melted
1. Melt butter and saute onions and celery until soft.
2. In a large bowl gently mix together the stuffing mix, sauteed onions, celery, corn, water, poultry seasoning and pepper. Let the mixture rest over night.
3. In the morning, add the eggs.
4. Form mixture into 8 balls and placed in buttered casserole dish. They can be refrigerated at this point and baked later in the day.
5. Just before baking pour melted butter over the balls.
6. Bake for 25 minutes.
SOURCE: Aunt Pat