I thought I had covered all my gravy bases with the five different variations I did last year. So when Kenji asked me to create another this year, I was left scratching my head, trying to awaken a brain that thought it was done thinking up new gravies. I inquired if he had anything in mind and got a quick reply: "A gravy designed to taste great with smoked turkey." In an instant, I had an answer.
We've got a whole slew of smoked and grilled turkey recipes on the site, but I'd never considered what it would take to make a gravy that would bring out their best attributes.
I'm a lover of South Carolina-style mustard barbecue sauce with my smoked poultries, so this seemed like a logical place to start. It just needed a little more sophistication to fit the theme of a holiday meal.
I started off by sautéing shallots in butter for a mellow oniony flavor. In lieu of the bright vinegar I'd normally add to a barbecue sauce, I used a glass of dry wine, which adds brightness and complexity without beating you over the head the way vinegar does. Next, a little turkey stock and, finally, I added in whole grain mustard. It provided a great look and texture, but it's a bit low on sharp mustard flavor. For that, I turned to a tablespoon of Dijon, which also ended up requiring just a touch of honey to balance out its bite.
The final gravy has a great rich turkey flavor. The mustards certainly add a strong hit of heat, but it's still mild enough for anyone at the table to enjoy. The wine delivers the right tanginess, while the honey adds just the slightest sweetness. Altogether, the gravy hints at its barbecue sauce inspiration, but is more apt to take its rightful place on the holiday table, pairing especially well with a smoked turkey, but ready to adorn just about any bird, from fried to roasted.
Looking for a bird to pair this with? Try any of our smoked, grilled, and barbecued turkeys.