Make Your Best-Ever Batch of Gravy for Thanksgiving with Our Food Editors' Pro Tips
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Once the pies have baked, the turkey has roasted, and the potatoes have been mashed, there's only one thing left to make on Thanksgiving—the gravy! Whether you drizzle it just on the turkey or give a heavy pour over all the mains and sides on your plate, this rich sauce certainly completes the meal. But how do you achieve a flavorful, earthy gravy that is totally lump-free? Our food editors have a few ideas.
The Wonder of Wondra
Wondra flour ($2.46, walmart.com) is an instant, quick-mixing flour that dissolves much easier than all-purpose flour. It's also the secret thickening agent that our food editors swear by. To make gravy with Wondra flour, assistant food editor Riley Wofford starts by mixing the flour with warm broth (use homemade turkey or chicken) on the stovetop until it thickens. "Use just enough Wondra flour to thicken the gravy slightly, while still maintaining its dark salty edge. The result is more like a fortified jus with a little silkiness rather than a pale, thick gravy," says senior food editor Lauryn Tyrell. Deputy food editor Greg Lofts calls this method "foolproof."
If you do find that the gravy is still lumpy, pass it through a fine mesh sieve before serving. "Remember the golden rule: What happens in the kitchen stays in the kitchen and as long as it's delicious, it doesn't matter how you got there," says Greg.
Deglazing the Pan
The brown bits that form at the bottom of the roasting pan after the turkey finishes cooking are loaded with flavor. Make use of those flavorful brown bits by deglazing the pan, which helps to release them easily. Both editorial director of food Sarah Carey and Greg recommend deglazing the pan with something acidic and flavorful, such as sherry. "Deglazing your pan with fortified wine builds flavor through acidity and all the botanicals, lending notes of citrus, flowers, stone fruits, and subtle warming spices like cinnamon, clove, and coriander," says Greg.
Lauryn also utilizes the pan drippings for her gravy, but she takes it one step further. "Order a few extra pounds of turkey necks and wings and roast them off a few days before Thanksgiving. Use those pan drippings to make a rich, concentrated broth [in addition to what's in the pan from the turkey]. That way you can rest easy knowing that you'll have plenty of gravy day-of without the risk of diluting those flavorful drippings with too much stock," she says.
Building the Flavor
Once your basic gravy is made, it's time to enhance the flavor. More than any other ingredients, Greg emphasizes the importance of thoroughly seasoning the gravy with salt and pepper. "A lack of salt will dull the flavor no matter what else you throw into it," he says. If it still doesn't taste quite right, he has another trick up his sleeve. "When a gravy seems a little thin or flat in flavor, I whisk in a spoonful of miso paste and it's a total game changer."
Of course, you can add flavor throughout the cooking process. "Sometimes I add a little apple cider to the bottom of my roasting pan in addition to the usual onion, garlic, and lemon halves. It adds just a little bit of sweetness to the final gravy," says Riley.
As for making sure that the gravy is warm upon serving, our food editors recommend making it just before dinner time to ensure that it's hot and smooth.