homemade turkey stock . . . our best kept secret for Thanksgiving dinner!

by mulberryshoots

branches with fruit found around the pond with our 19th century "self-portrait" of Rembrandt

branches with fruit found around the pond with our 19th century “self-portrait” of Rembrandt

The day before Thanksgiving is the day that I dedicate to making the turkey stock for gravy. As I’ve learned, gravy and stock are two different things. The gravy is what you serve with the meal – but the stock is what goes into the gravy along with the last minute drippings when you’re almost ready to eat.

I read somewhere that if the gravy for your Thanksgiving dinner is full of robust flavor, whatever you put it on (the roasted turkey, stuffing or mashed potatoes,) will ensure that the entire meal will taste delicious!

Made sense to me so for the past couple of years, I’ve been fine-tuning the stock that I use for gravy. I used to take the neck and giblets out of the fresh turkey, saute them with some vegetables and add water to make the stock on the morning of the big day. But I’ve graduated to making the stock from roasted fresh turkey parts (sometimes wings or this year, drumsticks.) Instead of all water, I use half water and half chicken broth. Plus, I do all this the day before so that the house smells wonderful and the stock has a chance to be de-fatted overnight.

Because I’m also providing roast chestnut dressing and gravy for a second Thanksgiving gathering on Saturday, I decided to make double the amount of stock just to be safe. It’s not a good idea to run out of gravy as there’s little you can do about it at the last minute when that happens – and when it’s tasty, people seem to want more of it than you’d think! Been there, done that (run out, that is.)

turkey drumsticks for stockThis year, I browned and roasted three turkey drumsticks. Cut up a large vidalia onion, five stalks of leafy celery, 5 large carrots and browned them in butter in a pan with Bell’s seasoning and salt in a stockpot until the drumsticks were done. Then cut the turkey meat, placed it with the drippings into the stockpot of sauteed vegetables and added spring water to cover. Skimmed off any foam and then added two cans of Swanson low-sodium chicken broth. stock vegetables

Will now barely simmer the stock for a few hours. Taste for whether it needs salt along the way. When cool, will strain the broth and de-fat it after it’s spent the night in the chilly pantry. Tomorrow, it’ll be ready to go when the drippings from the roasted turkey are available.

When almost ready to eat, I’ll melt a stick of unsalted butter in a large pan, gradually add about 1/2 cup flour (for this double amount of stock/gravy) and whisk together to make a roux, add some stock to thicken, add roast turkey drippings, add more stock little by little until the gravy is the consistency desired. Taste and season with Maldon sea salt and cracked black pepper.

This may seem like a LOT of trouble to go to for turkey gravy. But in our family, the gravy is second in importance to the primary one – which is the roast chestnut stuffing (cooked inside the bird!) – and the actual roast turkey almost seems like an afterthought around our table (just kidding, sort of)!

Happy Thanksgiving one and all!

(and many thanks for reading my blog!)