Big Batch Turkey Gravy. It’s Never Too Much

by Min Merrell
how to make turkey gravy


I’m adding this note before this annually popular story for all the folks that don’t really want a big batch of gravy.  It’s easy to make gravy in any amount, just remember the proportions of drippings (fat) to flour to broth.  You can make any size you want by knowing the ratio. A quarter cup per person seems about right. Or make more.  It freezes well.  See paragraph five below for a refresher course on the basic white sauce you should have learned in 7th grade home ec class–if they still had home ec! (November 2020, the year of COVID)

Click here for more about the white sauce ratio and how to make creamy vegetable casseroles.

R.B. was a kid he never got enough Thanksgiving gravy (or enough dark meat). The holiday gravy boat was too small for 7 or 8 diners, and if he was downstream from his older brother he was out of luck. He did get plenty of thin slices of dried-out breast, however, and at the Irish-Catholic dinner table in the 1960s and 70s one knew the consequences of appearing ungrateful.

So, I make a big batch and it makes him happy. We’re even freezing it early this year so we don’t have to make it on the big day.

Instead of canned or carton broths, make your own turkey broth in a crockpot. It’s a cinch, especially when you cut your turkey in half before you roast it as we do. Laying flat on a baking sheet the breast meat is always moist, the cooked bird is easier to carve, and a regular oven can roast three 10 – 12 pound birds at the same time. Plus, we love crusty southern cornbread dressing so much we can’t be restricted to the internal cavity of a turkey.

In a large crockpot combine turkey backs, necks, hearts, and kidneys (no liver) with onion, garlic, parsley stems, celery, bay leaves, and plenty of water and let it simmer all day or overnight. Drain off the solids, cool, and it’s done. If you want to make a batch of broth in advance, buy some turkey wings and use those.

For the gravy, think about the 2:2:1 ratio for medium white sauce (two tablespoons flour: two tablespoons butter: 1 cup milk). The white sauce ratio is too thick for turkey gravy, so decrease the ratio to 1 1/2 or 1 tablespoons each of fat and flour to 1 cup of broth. You’re swapping the butter for turkey drippings and the milk for turkey broth.

When the turkey is roasted, pour all the drippings into a cup. Let the fat rise to the top and skim it off with a spoon. Place the fat drippings in a large saucepan and heat it up. If you don’t have enough drippings, add some oil and butter. Add the same amount of flour and stir for a couple of minutes. Now add the broth and the turkey juices left in the cup. I add a little wine — Maderia, sherry, or vermouth. And the cut-up giblets from the broth. Stir until silky and slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper, thyme, marjoram, and maybe a little sage. That’s it. You’ve got a big (or small, just decrease the amounts according to the magic ratio) batch of gravy.

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