I am all about the sides at Thanksgiving. I am happiest with a big bowl of mashed potatoes smothered in turkey gravy but not any turkey gravy. The key to my amazing turkey gravy recipe starts with making a homemade Turkey Stock. Go the extra effort as it is not that hard to make, it just takes some time and love. Trust me on this one, this could be the year that everyone talks about your amazing gravy instead of wondering what jar or box it came from.
Big turkey gravy pet peeve of mine is that most people use chicken stock. This is usually the way it goes, and I know as my grandmother and great aunts did the same thing. Boil the neck and giblets in some water with maybe a little seasoning. Then it comes time to make the gravy, they brown up some flour with the pan drippings, add the boiled neck juice, whisk away and then add CHICKEN STOCK. People, this is not turkey gravy, it is faux turkey gravy.
We put all our time and energy into making a great bird, hours brining, and then basting and roasting and more basting, until golden brown. Put some effort into the gravy, make turkey stock, it isn’t that hard. When I know, I am going to be home, and the holiday is around the corner I pick up some turkey parts and go to work. I use the back as well as some wings when making this homemade stock. I season with olive oil, salt, pepper, sage, and thyme, then roast for two hours until golden brown.
Once the turkey is golden brown, I toss it into a large stock pan along with some onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and more herbs. Leave the skin on the onion as well as the garlic, it adds more flavor. Now you know my secret for making all stocks as well as cooking beans. I add water to the pot and let everything work its’ magic for hours over a very low simmer. If I have time, I will let the stock chill in the pot, then put it in the refrigerator overnight, and simmer the next day for 4 hours. That is not necessary as the flavor will still be richer than a box of chicken stock when making turkey gravy.
If I am not using right away I store the stock in the freezer to use at a later time either for gravy or soups.
1 large turkey back
3 turkey wings
1 large yellow onion, peel left on and cut in half
3 large cloves garlic, paper left on
3 large carrots, scrubbed and skin left on
3 large celery stalks
3 large sprigs of thyme
8 sage leaves
1/4 bunch Italian parsley
Preheat oven to 325.
Mince 4 sage leaves and the leaves of 1 sprig of thyme together.
Season the turkey with salt and pepper. Place into a large roasting pan, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the minced herbs, and slide into the oven. Roast until golden brown and fragrant.
Place everything into a large stockpot, along with the remaining sage, thyme, and parsley. Add 13 cups of water.
Bring to a boil, then lower heat to the lowest simmer on your stove. Cover and let cook all day. I check-in and stir every so often and season with salt and pepper towards the end. You should not need to add any water if you use a low simmer.
If you opt to cook for another 4 hours the next day, then cool and place it in the refrigerator. The next day, I skim off some of the fat that collects on the top. Then I bring it to a boil and reduce it to a low simmer for another 4 hours. This step is not necessary though – I only do it when I want a richer stock.
Let cool, then strain into a large dutch oven. Use what you need for your recipes or you can place into freezer-proof containers and use another time.