Holiday Cooking Tips

Holiday Gravy Tips

Grigory Lofin Gravy is one of the great joys of a holiday meal.
Grigory Lofin Gravy is one of the great joys of a holiday meal.

Great gravy is one of the great joys of home-style cooking. There are no secrets to making great gravy -- if you can master these few basic skills, you'll have all you need to make gravy just as good as (if not better than) Grandma's.

The foundation of great gravy is the juice left in the pan after roasting. When your roast turkey, beef, or pork has come to 5 to 10 degrees below the final temperature you wish to cook it to, remove it from the oven. Remove the roast, cover it with foil, and leave it alone for 10 to 15 minutes; during this time, its temperature will continue to rise, and it will cook fully without drying out. Carefully pour the juices from the roasting pan into a heatproof bowl or measuring cup.

They may look crusty or even burnt, but the solids coating the bottom of the roasting pan are the real source of the "roasted" flavor of homemade gravy. Fancy French chefs call this the "fond," and they incorporate it into their sauces and gravies by "deglazing" the pan.

Place the roasting pan -- emptied of its liquid contents -- over medium high heat on your stove. (Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to let it straddle two burners.) Pour in a cup of white wine or other liquid and stir constantly, scraping as much of the fond from the pan as possible. Continue cooking and scraping until the liquid has reduced by half.

By now, the juices you poured out of the roasting pan have most likely separated into an upper oily layer and a juicy bottom layer. Measure 1/3 cup of the fatty upper layer into a large saucepan over medium heat. Discard the rest of the fat, but save the rest of the pan juices. You'll need about 3 cups worth, but if you don't have enough, add stock or broth as needed (even canned will do).

Sprinkle about 3 tablespoons of all-purpose flour over the fat in the saucepan. Cook while stirring constantly for two or three minutes. Flour tends to form clumps when mixed with liquids, so if you want smooth, lump-free gravy, don't rush this step; stir constantly and don't neglect getting your spoon or whisk into the corners of the saucepan.

The rest is simple. Stir in the wine and fond mixture from the deglazed roasting pan, and add the juices (but no leftover fat) you removed from the pan earlier. Cook over medium or low heat until it thickens (probably five to 10 minutes), stirring occasionally. Salt and pepper to taste, and serve.

See the next page for more tips on making your holiday meal a success.

For more on turkeys and gravy, see:

For more on turkeys and gravy, see: