Making Turkey Gravy Without the Turkey
Nov 25, 2019
More and more people I know, including me, are forgoing the ritual of roasting a turkey for Thanksgiving. It’s too easy to order one in, whether roasted or smoked. The problem, though, is the side dishes. Dressing isn’t a huge deal; it’s probably safer to make it in a casserole than stuff the turkey, though getting it moist enough without drippings can be a challenge.
Gravy is an entirely different matter, especially if you, like me, grew up hearing, “First, you start with a roux.” No drippings, no roux. Flour stirred into butter is the first step of white sauce, not gravy.
This year, for a Friendsgiving dinner last Saturday, I solved the problem, and here’s how I did it.
3 turkey legs
2 cloves peeled garlic
2 shallots or 1 yellow onion, sliced
1 tablespoon each poultry seasoning, salt and pepper
¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup flour
2 cups chicken broth
2 cups milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease the bottom of a shallow roasting or broiling pan with butter. Prepare a rub of poultry seasoning, salt and pepper. Dry turkey legs with a paper down, the rub with soft butter and roll in the seasoning. Save remaining butter. Place turkey skin-side up in roasting pan and arrange onions, garlic and fresh sage leaves around the turkey. Salt and pepper the vegetables. Prick the skin of the turkey in multiple places so fat and juices will escape. About halfway through roasting, stir the vegetables and prink the turkey skin again.
When turkey is done, remove the turkey from the roasting pan, place pan over low heat, adding remaining butter, constantly scraping the bottom of the pan with a turner or spatula. Slowly stir in flour to make a roux. When the roux is smooth, increase heat to medium to brown the flour, taking care not to burn it. When it’s medium brown and has a nutty aroma, slowly stir in 1½ cups broth. When the mixture thickens, stir in 1½ cups milk.* Allow the milk to reach the boiling point, then reduce heat to simmer until the consistency of cream, stirring often. It should be caramel colored. Taste and correct seasonings if necessary.
Remove from heat, strain the gravy and discard vegetables. Reheat gravy shortly before you’re ready to serve, stirring in remaining broth and milk as needed to have the desired consistency. Season to taste.
*While you can use nonfat milk, whole milk will absorb more flour and thicken more easily.