Make Ahead Turkey Gravy

grannie geek, make ahead turkey gravy stock

My house is smelling so good today!  And the Packers and the Vikings are in overtime!  It’s a happy Sunday afternoon.

grannie geek, make ahead turkey gravy

It’s the Sunday before Thanksgiving.  Regardless of whether I’m cooking for the two of us or for a houseful of family and guests, I always manage to have more ideas rambling around in my gray-haired head than I have people to eat.  The luxury this year is that I’m trying a few different menu items.  One of them is this make ahead turkey gravy.  If you’re a Thanksgiving newbie, make ahead gravy will be a lifesaver.  If you’ve been around the block once or twice like me, It’s so nice to have this part of the meal finished.  After three hours and a few simple ingredients, you’ll have a flavorful, rich, deep brown turkey broth for gravy and to transform servings of turkey, stuffing, and mashed potatoes into a Thanksgiving masterpiece.

grannie geek, make ahead turkey gravy meat & vegetables

I’m using my grandmother’s Guardian Service roaster – I love this roaster.  I sprayed the bottom with vegetable cooking spray.  Add two turkey legs, or you could use turkey wings, salt and pepper the poultry,  four stalks of celery with leaves each cut into thirds, a large onion cut into quarters peel intact, and four large cloves of fresh garlic.  Drizzle the mix with a little olive to promote browning.  Put the roaster into a 375°F oven for two hours.

grannie geek, make ahead turkey gravy roasted turkey and veggies

Take the roaster out of the oven.  Can you see all the rich, deep brown drippings on the bottom of the roaster?  That’s what’s going to make this stock beautiful.  Add six cups of water or a combination of chicken stock and water, and bring it all to a boil on the stove for another hour.  Guess what?  The house smells like heaven, and I’m rapidly getting into the holiday spirit.

grannie geek, make ahead turkey gravy stock, turkey, veggiesgrannie geek, make ahead turkey gravy collage

Allow the liquid to cool for a little bit.  Using a strainer, drain off the liquid, and there you have it.

At this point, you can go ahead and make the gravy to store in the refrigerator – just warm it at meal time.  Or you can transfer the stock into a container, and wait until Thanksgiving to make the gravy.  I’m going to store the stock, so I can add drippings from the bird to make even more gravy.  I figure you can’t have too much gravy.  This way, too, I can remove the fat from the stock.

You know what I did with the turkey leg meat?  Turned it into turkey tetrazzini!

Let’s Make Gravy!
To put it all together, make a roux in a large saucepan with 4 Tablespoons melted butter and 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour.  Cook over medium heat for a few minutes, so the raw flour taste cooks out.  Add 2 cups of the turkey stock.  Stir to combine.  Add 1/2 cup of milk or cream, a teaspoon of apple cider (for a little tang) or a Tablespoon of cognac or brandy (for a richer taste).  Taste and correct the seasoning with salt and pepper.  Heat the gravy until it is bubbling.  Stir, turn down the heat, and keep warm on the stove, until you’re ready to serve. Don’t worry if a film forms over the top.  Just whisk the gravy, and it will dissolve.

Make sure the gravy has a pourable consistency.  If it is too thick, add a little more turkey stock.  If it’s too thin, here’s a trick my mother used.  She put 1/4 cup of warm water in a small glass jar with a lid, and added 2 Tablespoons of flour.  Secure the lid, and shake until the flour is dissolved.  Slowly drip into the gravy, whisking constantly.  Add just enough of the flour slurry to reach the desired consistency.  You may not need the whole jar.

As the tension mounts on Thanksgiving Day for serving, the gravy is always the last mealtime item to prepare.  Give yourself a breather with Make Ahead Turkey Gravy!

Very gently modified from Make Ahead Turkey Gravy from  Visit the Noble Pig for a peek at what the finished product will look like!

Make Ahead Turkey Gravy
Get a head start on Thanksgiving with this rich and yummy make ahead turkey gravy!
Cuisine: American
Recipe type: Thanksgiving
Serves: 8-10
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
  • 2 turkey wings or turkey legs
  • 4 ribs of celery, each stalk cut into thirds
  • 1 large onion, cut into chunks
  • 4 cloves garlic, unpeeled, peeled or smashed
  • 6 cups water or 3 cups water and 3 cups chicken stock
  • For The Gravy
  • 4 Tablespoons melted butter
  • 4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups turkey stock, strained and defatted
  • ½ cup whole milk, half-and-half, or cream
  • 1 teaspoon cider vinegar or 1 Tablespoon cognac or brandy
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. In a dutch oven or small roaster, place the turkey wings or legs. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add chopped vegetables and garlic. Roast for 2 hours.
  3. Remove roaster to the stove top. Add water/chicken stock. Bring liquid to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer for one hour.
  4. All the liquid to slightly cool. Strain the liquid into a large bowl. Line the strainer with cheesecloth or paper toweling.
  5. Pour into a storage container, and refrigerate until ready to use.

  6. To Make The Gravy
  7. In a large sauce pan, melt butter. Add flour, and whisk together. Cook the butter/flour mixture for a minute or two to cook out the raw taste of the flour.
  8. Add the turkey stock, and whisk until thickened.
  9. Add milk, cider vinegar, salt and pepper to taste.
  10. Keep warm on the stove until ready to serve.
  11. If the gravy is too thick, add a little more stock. If it is too thin, in a jar, shake together ¼ cup warm water with 2 Tablespoons of flour to make a slurry. While whisking the gravy, slowly add the slurry until the desired consistency.
Recipe makes approximately 2½ cups of gravy.

Gently modified from
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 8-10



Freeze Your Ginger

grannie geek, freeze your ginger for easy gratingYesterday, I made this absolutely phenomenal recipe for Karaage – Japanese Fried Chicken.  And it called for freshly grated ginger.  Hmmm . . .

If I really want to get serious about this blogging thing, then I should become more organized in meal planning so I don’t forget critical ingredients at the store.  I’m getting there, but haven’t quite arrived.

As I thought about how I was going to overcome the ginger, I remembered I had a ginger root in the freezer.  Eureka!!  Once upon a time, probably when I initially decided to put the root in the freezer, I read this was a good idea.  You don’t have to peel it, and, because it’s frozen, grating is quick, quick, quick.  Look how beautiful it becomes.  It’s like snow.  All the juices stay intact, and it’s so easy to measure.

ginger-graterI don’t use fresh ginger that often, but it is very important to Asian cooking, especially marinades, stir fried dishes, and the like.   When you buy fresh ginger, put it in a ziploc bag and pop it in the freezer.  Preferable in the freezer door, so you don’t forget you have it, like I did.  Anyway, this was a perfect solution for me.  I hope it works for you, too.

Bake Your Bacon

My grandmothers, mother, and I always cooked bacon in a frying pan.  Over the years, I’ve had a number of burns on my hands and arms from hot splattering grease.  Ouch!!

grannie geek, cooking tips, bake your bacon

Enter my friend, Colleen.  Colleen was familiar to cooking for a group of people.  She also had a lake house in central Wisconsin, where she would frequently entertain friends and family.  Luckily, our family was invited for weekend visits for a couple of years, and she shared with me her bacon secret.  It was the way her mother always did it.

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A Word About Using a Pressure Cooker

parts of a pressure cooker

A Word About Using a Pressure Cooker

Pressure cookers cook ingredients at lower temperatures under pressure.  Foods cook quicker, retain more nutrients, and meats tenderize.  Once you’ve learned to use one safely, a pressure cooker is a valuable tool.  But, once you have the lid locked in place, do not remove it until the cooking is finished and the all the pressure has released from the pot.  Do not remove the lid as soon you turn off the heat or remove the pot from the burner.  Wait for the pot to cool down, and for the steam to stop venting.  Newer pressure cookers have release valves, so you can release the steam and pressure, and open the pot sooner, but don’t try that on one as old as my Grandma’s.  (My mother did once, and the whole thing exploded hot boiling food all over the kitchen, sending her to the hospital with second degree burns.)  You shouldn’t be afraid to use one, but be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for safe operation.

Cooking Tip – Chicken Thighs

tomatoWhen I was raising my family, I bought whole chickens and cut them up.  Happily, our family was split in half, as far as chicken meat preferences were concerned, so everyone got the pieces they wanted.  Besides, whole chickens were always cheaper (remember 29¢ per pound whole chickens? ah, the good ol’ days), and I always made homemade chicken stock out of the leftover skin and bones.  A very frugal and delicious use of an inexpensive protein. One thing I’ve noticed is that as America’s chicken preferences changed, many more preferring white meat, the size of the breasts of whole chickens really changed.  Now, if I buy a 4-pound broiler/fryer, the white meat is about 2/3 the size of the other combined parts.  Leaves pretty slim pickings for those of us who love the dark meat part of a bird.

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Cooking Tip – Wilton Bake-Even Cake Strips

wilton bake even cake strips
Wilton Bake-Even Cake Strips

A few months ago, I was reading a recipe from another blog, Baked Bree.  It was just before my birthday, and I fell in love with her Funfetti Cake.  I scrolled down through the instructions and photographs, and stopped dead in my tracks when I saw the baked cakes cooling in the pans.  What’s that?  How did she do that??

I wasn’t the only one who took notice, and Bree let us in on her secret.  She uses Wilton’s Bake-Even Cake Strips.  These strips are padded strips of cloth sewn together.  As you’re getting the cake ready, put the strips in a bowl and cover them with water.  They should be totally submerged, and quite wet when you lift them out of the bowl.

Just before you pour the batter into the prepared pans, you remove one strip at a time, run the strip between your thumb and forefinger to remove as much water as you can, and wrap the strips around the outside of the cake pan.  Fasten the strip with a T-shaped pin that’s included.  Put the cake pans in the oven and bake.

flat top chocolate layer cake
Flat top chocolate layer

I bought my daughter a pair, and we used them to make my birthday cake.  When I returned home to Montana, I bought myself a pair, and used them to make the Rich Chocolate Sour Cream Cake with Chocolate Marshmallow Frosting.

The chocolate layers turned out beautifully.  You can find the bake-even strips wherever Wilton cake supplied are sold.  They even sell another package of four varying size strips for differently sized cakes.

Pure genius!

Cooking Tip – Keep Fresh Citrus Handy

zested citrus fruits, oranges, lemons, limes
Orange, Lemon, Lime Zest

I always have fresh citrus fruits in the kitchen close at hand – you know, just a couple of lemons, limes and oranges.  The juice and/or zest of any of these can be shaken into a fresh vinaigrette or sprinkled onto seafood or meat just before serving, or mixed with some yogurt, mayonnaise and a little sweetener for a fruit or vegetable dip.  You never know when some fresh zest will come in handy as an addition for cakes, pies or frosting.  As little as 1/2 of a lemon can make a big, wake-up-flavor difference.  And a flavor enhancer to packaged food.  

My husband, Richard, has been sick the last few days with a head cold.  He’s knocked out and not terrible hungry, but I wanted to fix a quick meal that would have enough spicy heat to loosen up his vintage kitchen condiment jarscongested sinuses and something pleasing and fragrant to give him hope he would recover.  Normally, I don’t buy prepared, pre-packaged food, but Richard, in a weak moment, bought some frozen orange chicken at Costco.  OK, not a big deal – heated the chicken in the oven according to directions, made the rice.  In a small saucepan, I added the frozen, syrupy goo that was supposed to be the sauce for the meat.  I dolled it up with zest from a fresh orange, squeezed orange juice, 1/4 teaspoonful crushed red pepper flakes, and about one tablespoonful of soy sauce.  The orange and crushed peppers really came through in the sauce, and had the desired effect.  For a little while at least, my husband was able to breath a little easier and enjoy his meal.