The first time I smoked a turkey I was so excited to make gravy out of the drippings—I thought the smoke would add another dimension to an already excellent sauce. Unfortunately, I was left sorely disappointed. The smoke overpowered the entire thing; I ate my bird sans gravy, an utter shame.
After that incident, I vowed to find a gravy that could deliver the deep flavors pan drippings produce, but without the drippings, which is what led me to this Cook's Illustrated recipe for an all-purpose gravy.
There's a lot right here with developing a complex flavor profile, starting with browning a mixture of vegetables; their deepened flavors are later picked up by the gravy. Then both chicken and beef stock are used, along with additional seasonings of bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns.
This gets 30 minutes of cook time to let all of the flavors combine and the sauce to thicken. What comes out is a rich gravy suitable to adorn any turkey or mashed potatoes on my Thanksgiving table.
Oh, and the best part is this can be made ahead and refrigerated or frozen, making it an excellent do-ahead for the big meal.
- 1 small carrot, peeled and chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 small rib celery , chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 small onion , chopped into rough 1/2-inch pieces (about 3/4 cup)
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
- 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- 2 cups low-sodium beef broth
- 1 bay leaf
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 5 whole black peppercorns
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
In food processor, pulse carrot until broken into rough 1/4-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses. Add celery and onion; pulse until all vegetables are broken into 1/8-inch pieces, about five 1-second pulses.
Heat butter in large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat; when foaming subsides, add vegetables and cook, stirring frequently, until softened and well browned, about 7 minutes. Reduce heat to medium; stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Whisking constantly, gradually add broths; bring to boil, skimming off any foam that forms on surface. Reduce heat to medium-low and add bay leaf, thyme, and peppercorns; simmer, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to 3 cups, 20 to 25 minutes.
Strain gravy through fine-mesh strainer into clean saucepan, pressing on solids to extract as much liquid as possible; discard solids. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper. Serve immediately or store in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to a week or freeze; reheat before serving.