Thursday, November 19, 2009

Fool-proof Make-Ahead Gravy and an Easier Thanksgiving

Make Ahead Gravy

Go ahead. Make your Thanksgiving Day!

This recipe comes to us via good friend Jodie Shepson. It's her most-shared recipe from an old issue of Women's Day magazine, discovered in the waiting room of her dentist's office many years ago. Women's Day notes that it is their most requested holiday recipe. You can make this well-ahead of time and know that the one most complicated and uncertain task of your Thanksgiving dinner is going to be perfect and done before the turkey is even purchased! This recipe can change Thanksgiving forever!

Jody's words: "I was always gravy challenged. My mother or mother-in-law handled the Thanksgiving gravy, I never really learned all the secrets of good gravy, and in my mind, it was a very stressful, last minute thing that did NOT have guaranteed results. That flour shaker thing and the skimming of the fat, stirring….what if the bird didn’t produce enough drippings, what if it’s too floury or watery, no flavor, too greasy……to me, gravy was always a very scary thing. And….it’s the thing that ties the whole meal together. Once I started hosting the Thanksgiving meal, I would assign the gravy to someone else; but there was never any sense of confidence about how the all-important gravy would turn out.
Then…I was sitting in the waiting room of Dr. Palmer’s dental office one April day, while some of my kids were having their teeth cleaned. I picked up the November Woman’s Day magazine, which happened to be on the table next to me, and leafed through the Thanksgiving recipes and tips. I came across this recipe for “Make-Ahead Gravy” that’s foolproof and delicious. I read it excitedly and vowed to remember it when Thanksgiving rolled around again. (Of course, I did not do that) Luckily, computers had been invented, so I searched on “Make-Ahead Gravy” and there it was. I tried it, and the vat of rich, perfect gravy was an incredibly beautiful sight to behold.
I’ve given this recipe to countless friends and family members, and even a few strangers. I’ve also gotten more thank yous for this recipe than any other! One friend writes every single year, a few weeks before Thanksgiving, to tell me she’s just made the gravy, and to thank me once again for taking the last-minute stress out of Thanksgiving. It’s just so wonderful to have that pot of gravy simmering on the stove, smelling great, and to not have to worry about all the stirring and skimming right before dinner. I also make a batch every now and then and freeze it in small containers. It’s great to thaw one out and make hot turkey sandwiches with very little effort. There’s still the mashed potato stress, but they’re not nearly as scary as gravy used to be!!"

Makes: 8 cups

Time: About 3 hr (mostly unattended)

Planning Tip: Make up to 3 months ahead and freeze in an airtight container. Refrigerate 2 days to thaw. Reheat in a saucepan, whisking often.

4 turkey wings (about 3 lb)
2 medium onions, peeled and quartered
1 cup water
8 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup chopped carrot
1/2 tsp dried thyme
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp stick butter or margarine
1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper

1. Heat oven to 400°F. Have ready a large roasting pan.

2. Arrange wings in a single layer in pan; scatter onions over top. Roast 1 1/4 hours until wings are browned.

3. Put wings and onions in a 5- to 6-qt pot. Add water to roasting pan and stir to scrape up any brown bits on bottom. Add to pot. Add 6 cups broth (refrigerate remaining 2 cups), the carrot and thyme. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 1/2 hours.

4. Remove wings to cutting board. When cool, pull off skin and meat. Discard skin; save meat for another use.

5. Strain broth into a 3-qt saucepan, pressing vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible. Discard vegetables; skim fat off broth and discard (if time permits, refrigerate broth overnight to make fat-skimming easier).

6. Whisk flour into remaining 2 cups broth until blended and smooth.

7. Bring broth in pot to a gentle boil. Whisk in broth-flour mixture and boil 3 to 4 minutes to thicken gravy and remove floury taste. Stir in butter and pepper. Serve, or pour into containers and refrigerate up to 1 week or freeze up to 6 months.

Per 1/2 cup: 52 cal, 2 g pro, 6 g car, 0 g fiber, 2 g fat (1 g saturated fat), 4 mg chol, 516 mg sod

Photo credit:


  1. This sounds great. I just sent this to my sister who hosts our Thanksgiving dinner every year. She puts Mom in charge of the gravy and even though Mom is 87 she still gets a little flustered making it. She wants it perfect and of course it comes out a little different every year. Thank you!

  2. OMG I just found this recipe on your BLOG, yes I should be working. I should have read this 2 weeks ago. My gravy was OK but next year it will be perfect. Thanks for posting this Jeannie. Once again you're the best

  3. Jody and Jeanne I think this sounds great .a must try ! thanks for posting again !!
    Sharron Eddy Cataldo