This little advance message from me for Thanksgiving is wholeheartedly in earnest. I repeat it here because it needs to be emphasized: Dears, gravy is not a beverage.
Thanksgiving gravy is meant to be served as an enhancement over mashed potatoes, turkey slices and dressing (often to moisten the overcooked latter enough to eat). However, gravy is not meant to be slurped in a coffee cup when no one is looking. I once discovered a Thanksgiving dinner guest taking liberties with my gravy boat after the feast was over! I guess his action was a compliment, but a rather strange one if I do say so myself.
There are three key elements that make Thanksgiving gravy good enough to drink:
Thanksgiving gravy has to have flavor and it usually comes from meat drippings. Drain as much fat off as possible and use the drippings as your base. The more meat dredge you have, the better tasting the gravy will be. Also, the right amount of salt is an important ingredient for making memorable Thanksgiving gravy.
Personally, white gravy is disgusting, like the kind restaurants serve over biscuits with lumps of ham (or half-hearted ham flavoring added). Thanksgiving gravy has to have some color. Even creamy chicken gravy needs some help once in awhile with a drop of yellow food coloring, if necessary. I have several how-to-make-gravy recipe notations in my family cookbook, but no one has known my little gravy coloring secret (till now, of course).
Thanksgiving gravy should be smooth, glossy, and free of lumpy pockets of flour. It really shouldn’t come from a can or gravy packet. Making good gravy is very easy, although many people are intimidated by making gravy. All you do is heat the meat drippings till hot, slowly stir in flour so it dissolves in the meat drippings, brown the flour mixture gradually, then add hot water and reduce. This is the old French roux method, and it works every time if you understand the dynamics of grease (drippings) and flour.
Also, I actually never measure out any of the elements used for Thanksgiving gravy, preferring instead to use my own sense of relativity about how much flour to add to the drippings, and when.
For additional texture and flavor, sometimes I cook the turkey giblets and slice them into the Thanksgiving gravy along with sliced boiled egg (an old trick to expand the Thanksgiving gravy, and it tastes pretty good, too). This is a technique I learned from my mother, who was a generous soul in inviting strays to Thanksgiving dinner. I actually have her basic gravy recipe in my family cookbook.
So, dears, enjoy your Thanksgiving this year. And remember; gently remind your family and guests that Thanksgiving gravy is not a beverage. You expect to have leftover gravy, too!
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