How to Make Ahead Gravy for Thanksgiving

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As that big day comes closer, turkey talk increases, to brine or not to brine debates ensue and worries over making the gravy creep in.  As there are so many recipes for turkey, the same seems to go for the gravy.  I have switched up my recipe over the years as well, but no matter the recipe there are a few basic steps.

Making the roux is based on equal amounts of fat and flour.  Cornstarch can be used instead of the flour, taking into consideration of what type of gravy I’m making.  If I want to have a darker roux, I use flour as cornstarch will not darken when cooked longer.  Also, if cooked too long, cornstarch will break down and the gravy becomes thin.

Because this post is about making gravy ahead of time and freezing, using flour is a better choice.  I usually make my gravy when the turkey is resting, whisking away as I’m multi-tasking several dishes to get the Thanksgiving dinner on the table in perfect timing.

This year I’ve decided to prepare not just my turkey stock ahead of time, but also the gravy.  In testing this out, freezing gravy is definitely a timesaving option.  Defrosting the gravy a day ahead, it will look a bit odd, but slowly heating and whisking the gravy will pull it back together.  As I note in the recipe below, if it seems a bit thin, making a slurry of cornstarch and turkey broth, then adding it in and whisking quickly will thicken it back up.

If making the gravy ahead and freezing is a bit overkill, I get it.  But without a doubt, making the turkey stock is a must for my Thanksgiving.  I will use the stock to flavor the stuffing, baste the turkey, and of course make the gravy.  And leftover stock for next day turkey soup is rich and flavorful.

Herb Infused Turkey Gravy

Leftover Turkey Dripping, about 2 – 3 tablespoons

1/2 cup red wine

imageIn a small saucepan, combine the turkey drippings, about 3 tablespoons and red wine.  Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer.  Simmer for approximately 7-10 minutes till reduced halfway.  Pour into fat separator and set aside.

1 shallot, finely chopped

3 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons olive oil

6 tablespoons flour, I used white/wheat blend flour

4-6 cups turkey stock

2 sprigs fresh rosemary

2 sprigs fresh oregano

2 bay leaves

imageIn a medium saucepan, heat the butter and olive oil.  Add in the shallot and sauté a few minutes.  Add in the flour and whisk briskly to make a roux.  Continue for about 3-5 minutes as the mixture becomes thick and smooth. 

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Begin to pour in the turkey stock slowly, 1 – 2 cups at a time, whisking to incorporate well.  Add in the herbs.  Bring gravy to a boil, reduce to a simmer, whisking occasionally about 10 minutes.  Stir in the dripping/wine reduction and continue to whisk and cook to desired consistency.  Remove herbs and discard.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.  If freezing, allow to cool and freeze. 

Defrost gravy one day before.  The appearance will not look right, but gently warm the gravy, whisking to blend well.  If the gravy appears thin, combine 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 1 tablespoon turkey broth to create a slurry.  Add slurry to simmering gravy, whisk quickly to thicken gravy.  Taste and season again to taste.

15 thoughts on “How to Make Ahead Gravy for Thanksgiving

  1. What a great idea! I always think of your Thanksgiving checklist at this time of year. It is genius. We’re traveling this year, so I won’t be cooking, but I will certainly remember this for next year! Love the time saving idea.

  2. make-ahead gravy. what a revelation! my hubby is the gravy dude in the family (got to hand-off at least one kitchen task 😉 ) and this year, we are blessed to be celebrating two thanksgivings… so, I’m forwarding this post to my life partner right now. thanks Linda!

    1. Having more hands in the kitchen on this busy day would be so wonderful! I have to let go a bit more and “share” the tasks. I always seem to take control….and end up stressing myself out!

  3. This is a great idea, Linda. I’ve always made my stock a few days early but left the grave for T-Day. The more dishes/sides I can get ready beforehand, the better I’ll be on the big day.

    1. Thanks John, and that’s how I feel as well, I want to enjoy the holiday and my guests, not be whisking away over a hot stove! Being in Florida, I can get away with more cold type side dishes which helps alot in making them ahead and not worrying about serving all hot dishes.

  4. There’s no such thing as too much gravy, or even “leftover” gravy, for that matter! This is such a smart thing to prepare in advance. I would be delighted to mix this up with mushroom broth for a savory veggie option.

  5. Your gravy looks amazing Linda! Mine is coming soon to my blog and it also uses red wine! I love, LOVE that you added fresh oregano and especially, rosemary…such a great idea and one of my favorite herbs! Since I don’t cook a turkey, mine doesn’t need pan drippings and can also be made ahead. Yours is super awesome to have that option as well, since most are the day of. 🙂

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