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Good Gravy!

The greatest gravy is enjoyed at Thanksgiving with drippings from the big bird

Who doesn't enjoy the indulgence of a rich creamy gravy on Thanksgiving? It's slathered on turkey and dressing and then pooled in a heaping mound of mashed potatoes. Making a good gravy is rocket science for some cooks and a brilliantly easy exercise for others. The worst offender is lumps - those little bits of flour that ball up in the butter or the drippings.

If you're working with a regular roaster, you can make the gravy right in the pan. For those of us who buy the heavy throwaways, it's easier to ladle the liquid into a large heat-proof cup and skim off the fat. I also prefer the medium-sized sauce pans for the finishing. Scraping the bits and pieces of the bottom of the roasting pan really adds depth to a gravy. And if you're not using the giblet broth for the dressing, it also makes a wonderful add-in.

For every cup of finished gravy, you'll need one cup of liquid, 1 ½ tablespoons of flour, and 1 ½ tablespoons fat. The liquid can be stock, broth, the drippings, and milk. You can also add sherry or wine along with tidbits of the turkey neck and mushrooms. Beware adding the liver to your gravy - if it's overcooked, it will become bitter. Take half of that and mix it with the desired amount of flour. This will help prevent lumping, but is not the preferred method. If your gravy is still lumpy and it's time to serve, strain it and carry on.

For the best gravy, let the dripping come to a boil and sprinkle in the flour. Stir, stir, stir to allow the flour to heat and cook thoroughly. Begin adding liquid slowly into the mixture and allow it to thicken as you continue stirring.

Simmer and stir for at least 10 minutes after adding the flour. It is the undercooked flour that can deliver an "off" taste.

Pepper and salt are also essential to great gravy taste. Your own preferences will also factor into the amounts.

You can actually make gravy ahead of time if you have saved stock from a previously cooked chicken. It will reheat wonderfully, but should be refrigerated for no longer than two days. Be sure to reheat to a temperature of 165º F. before serving.

Practice makes perfect, which is a wonderful excuse to make gravy every time you have drippings from chicken, pork, or beef.

Gravy can be frozen, especially if you reduce the fat and milk content; otherwise, it will separate. You can process it in a blender after thawing to give it a revitalized texture. You can also simply save extra drippings for freezing and prepare fresh gravy as needed for leftovers. Think about those hot turkey sandwiches you'll be consuming a few weeks after Thanksgiving!




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