Friday, November 19, 2010

November Project: Bammy's Turkey Gravy

Thanksgiving 1974: Aunt Nancy, Bammy, and my beautiful Mother.
It has recently been brought to my attention that gravy can be bought in a can. Yes, in a CAN! And people buy those cans and serve gravy from them to people they don’t hate! Ok, I realize that I am sort of naïve about these things and rather than allow the reality of America’s laziness and loss of tradition seep into my consciousness, I happily believe that everyone takes the time to make proper gravy. And by proper gravy I mean the kind that is rich with layers of flavor and silky with the sweat and worry that goes along with making The Gravy.

Gravy is a major stressor. I cannot think of a more important condiment. If you are out of mustard, the sandwich is not ruined; salty crisp chips can be enjoyed without salsa. But Thanksgiving dinner without a thick deeply flavored slathering of gravy? Well, let’s be honest, it is a total failure. A savory gravy can save the driest, most desiccated turkey. I can understand not wanting to have that sort of responsibility, especially when most people will be lazing about with mimosas or enjoying a brisk game of touch football, oblivious to the culinary feats taking place in the kitchen. But consider the alternative: your friend offers to make it and brings over her “famous” fat-free, dairy-free, salt-free gravy (!!!) or worse Aunt Judy shows up with CANS of gravy!

It could happen, but don’t let it.

My grandma, Bammy, is a bit of a gravy nazi and won’t let anyone even think about making the gravy. Along with the mashed potatoes, gravy is her domain. Last Thanksgiving I followed her around the kitchen and diligently recorded a very sacred tradition: The Gravy. So pick up the whisk and take matters into your own hands—be the hero.


2 quarts water
Turkey neck and giblets
1 white onion, chopped
4 celery stalks, leaves included, chopped
3 carrots, peeled, chopped
5 sprigs parsley
7 sprigs thyme
2-3 bay leaves
2 teaspoons chicken base (bouillon)
Pan rich with roasted turkey juices and bits
6-8 tablespoons flour, sifted
Kosher salt and pepper
A few drops of Kitchen Bouquet- This is a very old school ingredient, and can be omitted (however, Bammy would NOT approve). She mainly uses it for color.

1. For the stock, combine the first nine ingredients in a pot and let simmer for one hour, or more.
Pass stock through a fine strainer and reserve the liquid. Trim off all usable meat from the neck. If desired, with a paring knife trim the giblets well. Cut neck meat and giblets into bite-sized pieces and add to stock. Discard all other vegetables and herbs. Cover and put in refrigerator; this step can be done a day ahead. You can use this stock and lots of butter to baste the turkey.
2.To make the thickener, combine the flour and two cups of the chilled turkey broth in a jar. With the lid on tight, shake vigorously until it is smooth with no lumps. (The stock cannot be hot, or else it will be lumpy.)

4. To make the gravy, bring the turkey stock to a low simmer. When the turkey is done, remove it from the pan to rest and skim off most of the fat—but not the turkey juices! Place the roasting pan over a burner or two on the stovetop over medium heat.

5. To incorporate the caramelized turkey bits and flavorful juices into the gravy, pour the thickener into the pan and bring to a simmer. Scrape up the bits from the bottom with a rubber spatula.

6. While whisking, slowly add the stock to the pan. Whisk continuously until all is added—don’t leave the stove, it is very important that you keep whisking! Return to boil and it will thicken to deeply flavored, silky gravy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Pour over everything on your plate!


  1. Such beautiful ladies! Good genes Ash, good genes.

  2. You said it C-dizzle. Meow!